Sucker Punch: Getting Killed Can Be the Least of Your Problems by Jim Carroll – a #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

A Vicarious Blogger review of a military thriller

Book Blurb:

Sucker Punch: Getting Killed Can Be the Least of Your Problems by Jim CarrollJohnny Mack wanted to be an airline pilot who flew all over the world, made great money and met lots of girls. At 18 that seemed like a fair trade for a few years in the Army.

Johnny found out too late that in 1971 the Army only needed helicopter pilots. And they only needed them in Vietnam.

After an unfortunate incident involving a General’s daughter, Johnny ‘volunteers’ to go undercover on a Medevac crew suspected of selling Army medicines to the enemy.

Johnny’s control officer’s incompetence is deadlier than any enemy. Johnny’s crew are psychopathic pirates.

Then there is the regular job. Coming into hot landing zones. Loading the dead and wounded. Ignoring the screaming and thrashing about in the back. Holding the helicopter steady as bullets rip through the bird. Cleaning out the blood and gore as part of the regular post flight.

There is no one to trust. Death is coming from every direction.

As life spirals out of his control, Johnny realizes that getting killed may be the least of his problems. His sanity, his soul and everything that he believes himself to be, are in as much danger as his life.

His Review:

Sucker Punch - a thriller by Jim CarrollAnyone who has seen a Cobra helicopter in action is amazed at the nimbleness of the machine and the awesome firepower. Many young men during the Vietnam War aspired to be a pilot and fly one of those beauties. Our hero, John Mack, is just such a fellow. Training is arduous and upon the completion of his training, he and his buddy “Face” set out for final liberty before deployment.

Young ladies can get Warrant Officers into real trouble and Mack is no exception. A general’s daughter who looks much older spends some time with him giving him a painful medical condition and a trail directly to the general.

Rather than flying the Cobra Mack is sent to Vietnam to be a co-pilot on a Huey. His primary mission is to uncover someone who is selling medical supplies to the enemy. He is the third WO sent to unravel this mystery. The other two were missing and killed in action.

Cobra attack helicopterThe flying sequences and characters in this tale are very entertaining and remind me of standard military people in times of war. Very few people get particularly attached to teammates because they could die on any given mission. This coupled with undercover work makes our hero particularly vulnerable.

This book is very fast-moving and hard to put down. Danger is a daily event for the helicopter crews in a war zone. As a reader, you will immediately become engrossed in the survival aspect of this fast-moving drama and nail-biting scenes. Some of the descriptions of the war are downright hair raising. Therefore, I warn you to set aside a block of time because you will not want to put this book down.CE Williams CE Williams

We received this book from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review and these are my honest opinions. This novel is scheduled to be published on Friday, May 15, 2020.

Book Details:

Genre: Military Thrillers, War and Military Action Fiction
Publisher: Zeljim Publishing
ASIN: B084S6HR1Q
Print Length: 271 pages
Publication Date: To be released May 15, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Sucker Punch

Add to Goodreads 

Jim Carroll - author The Basketball DiariesThe Author: [from Goodreads bio] James Dennis “Jim” Carroll was an author, poet, autobiographer, and punk musician. Carroll was best known for his 1978 autobiographical work The Basketball Diaries, which was made into the 1995 film of the same name with Leonardo DiCaprio as Carroll.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams

V Williams

Photo attribution Cobra by Public Domain Pictures.net

The Age of Witches: A Novel by Louisa Morgan – a #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Historical Fantasy Fiction

Book Blurb:

The Age of Witches by Louisa MorganIn Gilded Age New York, a centuries-long clash between two magical families ignites when a young witch must choose between love and loyalty, power and ambition, in this magical novel by Louisa Morgan.
In 1692, Bridget Bishop was hanged as a witch. Two hundred years later, her legacy lives on in the scions of two very different lines: one dedicated to using their powers to heal and help women in need; the other, determined to grasp power for themselves by whatever means necessary.
This clash will play out in the fate of Annis, a young woman in Gilded Age New York who finds herself a pawn in the family struggle for supremacy. She’ll need to claim her own power to save herself-and resist succumbing to the darkness that threatens to overcome them all.

My Review:

Having descended from Bridget Byshop who was hanged in 1692 for being a witch, Harriet Bishop is still being very careful about her abilities beyond the herbal concoctions she creates to heal. She is one of two sisters from Bridget’s line. The sisters, however, did not choose the same path to magic–one chose healing and the other dark power to ruthlessly gain her desired outcome. Their grandmother Beryl tried her best to pass on the legacy, but Harriet and Frances grew up in different circumstances and Frances was determined she’d rise above the squalid memories of her childhood.

The Age of Witches by Louisa MorganNew York City during the Gilded Age was a magical community, thriving, discovering modern conveniences. Frances’s goal was to be accepted into the Four Hundred–the entitled old money rich of the city. Frances is an early Eliza Doolittle, willing to do anything to rise to the level of the successful, tasteful aristocracy. She would do that by forcing her seventeen-year-old step-daughter to marry into the nobility of England and arranges a trip with Annis to find a suitable prize. Annis Allington has her own ideas, however. She adores her thoroughbred stallion, Black Satin (Bits), and her goal is to create a fine bloodline of thoroughbreds. But back then, who would purchase on the “expertise” of a woman breeder. Annis has no ideas of marriage and certainly not to a stuffy British nobleman. She is determined that no one will tell her what she can or can’t do.

The narrative conjures visions of magic spells, amulets, cantrips, and herbal concoctions. The herbal blends are devised by mortar and pestle, each recipe’s ingredient carefully chosen for the desired outcome. The incantations are poetic.

While Annis would be considered the main character, there are four POV’s, that of Annis, Harriet, Frances, and later James. You can almost visualize Frances as the evil witch, complete with long and crooked nose and pointy hat. Harriet, always the peace-maker, soft-spoken carries the big stick, and wide-eyed novice Annis uncovering the new world of sorcery. Both the good and bad.

The author has done an admiral job of the verbiage, invoking so much knowledge to herbal ingredients and remedies that it doesn’t seem possible you could write with that much confidence and not be involved in the practice up to the eyeballs. The narrative follows Annis on her steadfast course to be true to herself. Harriet toils toward the empowerment of women–quietly but naturally–as a benevolent mentor and realizes she must intervene in Frances’ plan.  Annis is young and idealistic, but wholly empathetic, and I loved the strong connection to her horse. James is an innocent pawn, naive, in a scheme gone mad and Frances…poor Frances will pay a heavy price for her dark plot.

Witch should be a beautiful word, signifying wisdom and knowledge and discipline, but it isn’t used that way. It’s been made an insult, implying evil, causing fear. The word has been perverted.” –Harriet Bishop, 1890

The storyline wrestles with the effects of a maleficia gone awry, finding the path between the two young persons, and the struggle of good versus evil. When is two wrongs the better choice? And can it possibly be used to make right?

Why didn’t I go whole hog five stars is a quibble I had similar to the one I experienced with A Secret History of Witches (which I avidly followed with the exception of the story of Veronica during WWII). This time, I stumbled over the relationship of Annis to Harriet and Frances.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed that first book so much I couldn’t wait to tear into this ARC. The author writes with engaging authority, slipping the prose easily between tidbits of ancient technology and entertaining but subtle differences between American and British society. Totally recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: American Historical Romance, Historical Fantasy Fiction
Publisher: Redhook

  • ISBN-10:0316419540
  • ISBN-13:978-0316419543
  • ASIN: B07VZFWVYR

Print Length: 448 pages
Publication Date: Happy Release Day! April 7, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Age of Witches (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Louisa Morgan - authorThe Author: Louisa Morgan lives and writes and rambles with her familiar, Oscar the Border Terrier, on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. A musician and a yogini, she finds inspiration in the artistic environment where she makes her home.

Under the name Louise Marley, she has written a number of other historical fiction novels, as well as fantasy and science fiction. Please visit http://www.louisemarley.com for more information, and to learn more about Oscar!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Missing Sister by Elle Marr – a #BookReview #thriller

Did CE, the Vicarious Blogger* love this one?

Book Blurb:

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

The Missing Sister by Elle MarrIn Paris, her twin sister has vanished, leaving behind three chilling words: Trust no one.

Shayna Darby is finally coming to terms with her parents’ deaths when she’s delivered another blow. The body of her estranged twin sister, Angela—the possible victim of a serial killer—has been pulled from the Seine. Putting what’s left of her life on hold, Shayna heads to Paris. But while cleaning out Angela’s apartment, Shayna makes a startling discovery: a coded message meant for her alone…

Alive. Trust no one.

Taking the warning to heart, Shayna maintains the lie. She makes a positive ID on the remains and works to find out where—and why—her missing sister is hiding. Shayna retraces her sister’s footsteps, and they lead her down into Paris’s underbelly.

As she gets closer to the truth—and to the killer—Shayna’s own life may now be in the balance…

My Thoughts 

Debut author Elle Marr apparently hits it out of the ballpark with The Missing Sister.

Officially released on April Fool’s Day, she has garnered more than 3,000 ratings on Goodreads but at less than a 3.61 average. At kinder, gentler Amazon, just over 500 ratings (as of April 2) with a 3.9 average rating (one day after release). Someone did one bang-up job of promoting and marketing because it certainly had the buzz before it hit the official board.

The location of Paris is a crucial component of the well-plotted suspense identical twin device. Shayna, the twin purportedly favored by their parents for being the serious goal-driven half, has come to identify and return home with the body of her sister. But the message she finds in Angel’s apartment contradicts that the body they possess at the Paris morgue might be she. Trust no one should mean that…but Shayna is also the damaged twin.

It is Angela that received the wild side, at times pushing her twin well beyond her boundaries. Angela appears to have found a more accepting “family” in the Parisian academic scene, where she was pushing through a doctoral degree. It would seem she had a comfortable safe location close to her studies and specifically the catacombs underneath the city–until she disappeared and “found” days later in the River Seine.

Here is my problem: Shayna has a finite amount of time to either claim the body and return home with it, or, feeling she would have “felt” it if her sister died, has the same short time to find her alive. But why would she be hiding? And the pace slows

Shortly upon her arrival, the reader is introduced to the first of a number of suspicious characters, red herrings, lovely jaunts through the city and atmospheric street-side cafes. (Brought back so many memories, though most of ours consisted of the cathedrals since that was where we were singing.) In between the sojourns, she digs into Angela’s papers, belongings, anything looking for additional twin-type clues. She finds an occasional clue, but they come painfully slow. The process doesn’t get really serious until near the conclusion and Shayna makes some bad choices in between.

There is shared history to examine, the relationship between the twins (as with my own father, the identical twin deemed the bad one), and the secret–that awful secret between them that drives what appears to be a permanent wedge. (In the case of my dad and uncle also a permanent one. I never understood that, until additional information came out long after his death.) In this case, I couldn’t identify with either Shayna nor Angela, and while I enjoyed the travelogue, didn’t the French characters. The big reveal doesn’t exactly come as a shock–you might have guessed it all along–but I did enjoy the hair-raising climax and finally getting the real skinny.

A meaningful effort for a debut and I can see where this author will grow into a compelling storyteller–this was a good start. Just wish it hadn’t been spoon-fed quite so sparingly. This is one you’ll either connect with or won’t, but may provide some entertainment in the meantime. I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a name you’ll see on award lists. 3.5/5 stars

His Thoughts

The Missing Sister by Elle MarrIdentical twins are at times a psychological mystery. Elle has wrapped this up masterfully in this tale of intrigue and suspense involving identical twins. They have many of the characteristics I have read about including developing their own language and calligraphy.

Families always seem to have dominant and recessive individuals within siblings. Our twins, Shayna and Angela, are no exception to the rule. Angela is the strong dominant twin and Shelby is the recessive twin, or is she? A death of both their parents while Angela is completing a Doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris puts this conjecture to the test.

Angela is missing! Shayna is called to Paris to identify a body in the morgue and possibly send it back to San Diego, California for burial. The morgue is closed for the weekend so Shayna goes to her sister’s apartment to pack her things.

The psychic alarm in Shayna’s head has not gone off! She is certain that were her sister dead she would have felt something in the ether. Thankfully Angela’s boyfriend Sebastian is there to help her pack and go through Angela’s things. A whiteboard in Angela’s apartment has a cryptic message in their personal script, “Alive: Trust No One!”

CE WilliamsOur author, Elle Mann, develops twists and turns more explosive than a roller coaster. Who can she trust to help her solve the mystery of her sister’s disappearance? Skillfully the reader is drawn into intrigues which include over two hundred miles of catacombs under Paris. Read this book and enjoy the intrigue which is “The Missing Sister!” 5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Kidnapping Thrillers, Women’s Detective Fiction, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN: 1542006058
ASIN: B07QYMXX41
Print Length: 294 pages
Publication Date: April 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Missing Sister (Amazon)

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Two Five of Five Stars Four and One Quarter Stars

Elle Marr - authorThe Author: Originally from Sacramento, debut author Elle Marr explored the urban wilderness of Southern California before spending three wine-and-cheese-filled years in France, where she earned a master’s degree from the Sorbonne University in Paris. She now lives and writes outside Portland, Oregon, with her husband, son, and one very demanding feline. Connect with her online at http://www.ellemarr.com, on facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

*As coined by Nina of The Cozy Pages

Spotlight – Frozen Stiff Drink by James J Cudney #BlogTour #Spotlight #Giveaway

Today I am pleased to provide a spotlight for you at my blog stop for Frozen Stiff Drink: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery by James J Cudney on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Spotlight - Frozen Stiff Drink by James J Cudney

Book Details

Frozen Stiff Drink: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery
(Braxton Campus Mysteries)

Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Publisher: Gumshoe – A Next Chapter(March 18, 2020)
Digital Edition – ~270 Pages
ASIN: B0849MJH6H

About the Book

A winter blizzard barrels toward Wharton County with a vengeance. Madam Zenya predicted the raging storm would change the course of Kellan’s life, but the famed seer never could’ve prepared him for all the collateral damage. Nana D disappears after visiting a patient at Willow Trees, leaving behind a trail of confusion. When the patient turns up dead and a second body is discovered beneath the snowbanks, Kellan must face his worst fears. What tragedy has befallen his beloved grandmother?

Kellan’s brother Hampton learns essential life lessons the hard way after his father-in-law accuses him of embezzlement. While trying to prove his innocence, Hampton digs himself a deeper hole that might lead to prison. Sheriff Montague wants to save him, but she receives the shock of her life as the past hurtles forward and complicates her future.

Between locating Nana D and solving the scandalous murder of another prominent Braxton citizen, Kellan and April’s worlds explode with more turmoil than they can handle. Too bad neither one of them knows what to do about the psychic’s latest premonition. The suspicious deaths happening around town aren’t ending anytime soon.

+Add to Goodreads

Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win (1) Print Copy – Frozen Stiff Drink: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery (Braxton Campus Mysteries) by James J. Cudney (U.S. Only) in this Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College. I’ve spent twenty years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.

When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. I can’t believe I’ve finished writing the sixth book in this series. Come join in the fun…

 Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

Social Media Links

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

List of Published Books

Braxton Campus Mysteries – Purchase Links 

Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)

Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)

Frozen Stiff Drink – #6 (March 2020)

Author’s Other Books

Watching Glass Shatter (Contemporary Fiction / Family Drama)

The wealthy Glass family lost its patriarch, Benjamin Glass, sooner than expected. Benjamin’s widow, Olivia, and her 5 sons each react to his death in their own way while preparing for the reading of his will. Olivia receives a very unexpected confession from her late husband about one of their sons that could shatter the whole family. Prior to revealing the secret to her children, Olivia must figure out which boy Ben refers to in the confession he left her in his will. While the family attorney searches for the mysterious Rowena Hector whom Ben says holds the answers, Olivia asks her sons to each spend a week with her as she isn’t ready to let go of the past. When Olivia visits her sons, she quickly learns that each one has been keeping his own secret from her. Olivia never expected her remaining years would be so complex and life-altering, but she will not rest until her family is reunited after Ben’s untimely death. We all need family. We all want to fit in. We’re all a mix of quirky personalities. Will Olivia be able to fix them, or will the whole family implode? What will she do when she discovers the son behind Ben’s secret? Check out this ensemble cast where each family member’s perspective is center stage, discovering along the way who might feel the biggest impact from all the secrets. Through various scenes and memories across a six-month period, you’ll get to know everyone, learning how and why they made certain decisions. Welcome to being an honorary member of the Glass family where the flair for over-the-top drama pushes everyone to their limits. Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (Contemporary Fiction / Family Drama)

Between the fast-paced New York City, a rural Mississippi town and a charming Pennsylvania college campus filled with secrets, two young girls learn the consequences of growing up too quickly. Amalia Graeme, abused by her mother for most of her life, longs to escape her desolate hometown and fall in love. Contemplating her loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction she’s developed for an older man, Amalia faces life-altering tragedies. Brianna Porter, a sassy, angst-ridden teenager raised in New York City, yearns to find her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. Desperate to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, Brianna accidentally finds out a shocking truth about her missing parent. Set in alternating chapters two decades apart, the parallels between their lives and the unavoidable collision that is bound to happen are revealed. FATHER FIGURE is an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense. Father Figure (April 2018)

BRAXTON CAMPUS MYSTERY SERIES

Academic Curveball: Death at the Sports Complex (#1)

When Kellan Ayrwick, a thirty-two-year-old single father, is forced to return home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds the dead body of a professor in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Then he finds a second body after discovering mysterious donations to the college’s athletic program, a nasty blog denouncing his father, and a criminal attempting to change student grades so the star baseball pitcher isn’t expelled. Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana weeding through the clues, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. Fate has other plans. Kellan is close to discovering the killer’s identity just as someone he loves is put in grave danger of becoming victim number three. And if that’s not enough to wreak havoc on his family, everything comes crashing to a halt when his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever. In this debut novel in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series, readers discover a cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic, and nosy residents. Among the daily workings of Braxton College and the charming Ayrwick family, Kellan weighs his investigative talents against an opportunity to achieve a much sought-after dream. When this first book ends, the drama is set for the next adventure in Kellan’s future… and it’s one you won’t want to miss. Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

Broken Heart Attack: Death at the Theater (#2)

When an extra ticket becomes available to attend the dress rehearsal of Braxton’s King Lear production, Kellan tags along with Nana D and her buddies, sisters-in-law Eustacia and Gwendolyn Paddington, to show support for the rest of the Paddington family. When one of them appears to have a heart attack in the middle of the second act, Nana D raises her suspicions and asks Kellan to investigate who killed her friend. Amidst family members suddenly in debt and a secret rendezvous between an unlikely pair, Kellan learns the Paddingtons might not be as clean-cut as everyone thinks. But did one of them commit murder for an inheritance? Kellan is back in his second adventure since returning home to Pennsylvania. With his personal life in upheaval and his new boss, Myriam, making life difficult, will he be able to find a killer, or will he get caught up in his own version of stage fright? Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

Flower Power Trip: Death at the Masquerade Ball (#3)

Braxton College is throwing the Heroes & Villains Costume Extravaganza to raise money for renovations to the antiquated Memorial Library. While attending, Kellan stumbles upon a close family friend standing over a dead body that’s dressed as Dr. Evil. Did one of Maggie’s sisters kill an annoying guest at the Roarke and Daughters Inn or does the victim have a more intimate connection to someone else on campus? As Kellan helps the school’s president, Ursula, bury a scandalous secret from her past and unearth the identity of her stalker, he unexpectedly encounters a missing member of his own family who’s reappeared after a lengthy absence. When all the peculiar events around town trace back to the Stoddards, a new family who recently moved to Wharton County, the explosive discovery only offers more confusion. Between the special flower exhibit that’s made an unplanned stop on campus and strange postcards arriving each week from all around the world, Kellan can’t decide which mystery in his life should take priority. Unfortunately, the biggest one of all has yet to arrive at his doorstep. When it does, Kellan won’t know what hit him. Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

Mistaken Identity Crisis: Death on the Cable Car (#4)

A clever thief with a sinister calling card has invaded Braxton campus. A string of jewelry thefts continues to puzzle the sheriff given they’re remarkably similar to an unsolved eight-year-old case from shortly before Gabriel vanished one stormy night. When a missing ruby is discovered near an electrified dead body during the campus cable car redesign project, Kellan must investigate the real killer to protect his brother. Amidst sorority hazing practices and the victim’s connections to several prominent Wharton County citizens, a malicious motive becomes more obvious and trickier to prove. As if the latest murder isn’t enough to keep him busy, Kellan partners with April to end the Castigliano and Vargas crime family feud. What really happened to Francesca while all those postcards showed up in Braxton? The mafia world is more calculating than Kellan realized, and if he wants to move forward, he must make a few ruthless sacrifices. Election Day is over, and the new mayor takes office. Nana D celebrates her 75th birthday with an adventure. A double wedding occurs at Crilly Lake on Independence Day. And Kellan receives a few more surprises as the summer heat settles in Wharton County. Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)

Haunted House Ghost: Death at the Fall Festival (#5)

It’s Halloween, and excitement is brewing in Braxton to carve jack-o’-lanterns, go on haunted hayrides, and race through the spooky corn maze at the Fall Festival. Despite the former occupant’s warnings, Kellan renovates and moves into a mysterious old house. When a ruthless ghost promises retribution, our fearless professor turns to the eccentric town historian and an eerie psychic to communicate with the apparition. Meanwhile, construction workers discover a fifty-year-old skeleton after breaking ground on the new Memorial Library wing. While Kellan and April dance around the chemistry sparking between them, a suspicious accident occurs at the Fall Festival. Soon, Kellan discovers the true history and dastardly connections of the Grey family. But can he capture the elusive killer – and placate the revenge-seeking ghost.   Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!

Tour Participants:

March 18 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

March 18 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 19 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

March 19 – Diane Reviews Books – GUEST POST

March 20 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW

March 20 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

March 21 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – SPOTLIGHT

March 21 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

March 22 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 23 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

March 23 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

March 23 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

March 24 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 24 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

March 25 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

March 25 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 26 – eBook addicts – REVIEW

March 26 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

March 27 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

March 27 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

 Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to post a spotlight for this cozy mystery!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Problem Child: A Jane Doe Thriller by Victoria Helen Stone #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone

Book Details

Problem Child: A Jane Doe Thriller
Thriller
2nd in Series
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (March 24, 2020)
Paperback: 265 pages
ISBN-10: 1542014395
ISBN-13: 978-1542014397
Digital ASIN: B07SDTRJP9

Book Blurb

She’s cold, calculating, and can deceive with a smile. Jane Doe is back in the Amazon Charts bestselling series—and this time she’s met her match.

After a brutal childhood, Jane Doe has been permanently wired to look after herself and only herself. Now, looking next to normal, Jane has a lover and a job. But she hasn’t lost her edge. It sharpens when she hears from her estranged family.

Jane’s deeply troubled sixteen-year-old niece, Kayla, has vanished, and no one seems to care. Neither does Jane. Until she sees a picture of Kayla and recognizes herself in the young girl’s eyes. It’s the empty stare of a sociopath.

Jane knows what vengeful and desperate things Kayla is capable of. Only Jane can help her—by being drawn into Kayla’s dark world. And no one’s more aware than Jane just how dangerous that can be.

My Thoughts

Sucked into this one by the blurb and the genre (I do love a good thriller), I was an innocent pulled into the world of a true sociopath. (Sociopath: Someone who has antisocial personality disorder, can’t understand others’ feelings and exhibit a lack of conscience.) Told in first person, protagonist Jane Doe has been at her job for a year.

Problem Child by Victoria Helen StoneJane has met a man, also an innocent, who finds her fascinating, titillating, and irresistible. Unfortunately, he is ready to take their relationship to another level. She isn’t. But she is capable of manipulating the men at her law firm and it’s sooo easy to view the glass ceiling. It’s within reach now. Then she gets a call about a niece, Kayla, who she wouldn’t care about at all, except that she is apparently “just like her.” She can’t resist the temptation to find the missing girl and see for herself if that is true.

Jane had a childhood that molded the woman who can take care of herself. She is capable, smart, and became an attorney without help–escaping a desperately miserable family life back home.

I came in to Book 2 as a standalone and must say this one came as a shock. After reading cozies, psychological thrillers, and carefully selecting books with a PG rating, discovered this novel quite a serious departure. There is humor of a dark nature and the storyline involved scenes that might have had me blushing when younger. Jane is a main character with which I’ve had few comparisons–she can be sexually adventurous and foul-mouthed and oh so square how she sees others–but not of herself. She has trust issues, but her cynicism has been a positive and along with her wit kept her (mostly) safe.

When she finds Kayla, she is what you’d expect a sixteen-year-old raised in the same poisonous atmosphere as Jane to be. She’s annoying and also manipulative. The middle block tended to be on the crude side. But like a pimple-faced fourteen-year-old male adolescent viewing a secreted copy of Playboy, difficult to put down. There is a well-plotted story at a fast pace breezing through Jane’s encounters with the population of her hometown, put satisfying in their place now, and I suspect somewhat of a reprise of Book 1. The conclusion appears to suggest a happy solution for both Jane and Kayla, as well as Luke, right up until that last little zinger at the end–a spark for Book 3–and a shocker. I did NOT see that twist coming and it definitely threw me.

I’ll include a few trigger warnings: sexual content, language, drugs and drinking. Interesting to park yourself in the mind of a sociopath, safely, where you could escape back to reality at the end of the novel (but not totally unscathed). I received this uncorrected proof from the publisher through NetGalley for this book tour and appreciated the opportunity to break out of my pleasant, but predictable reads. Will I request Book 3? Yes.

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one of five (5) print copies of Problem Child: A Jane Doe Thriller by Victoria Helen Stone – U.S. only – in this Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Victoria Helen Stone - authorVictoria Helen Stone, formerly writing as USA Today bestselling novelist Victoria Dahl, is originally from the Midwest but now writes from an upstairs office high in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. After a career in romance that included the American Library Association’s prestigious Reading List Award, she turned toward the darker side of fiction and has written the critically acclaimed novels, Evelyn, AfterHalf Past; and False Step. Her Amazon Charts bestselling thriller Jane Doe has been optioned by Sony Television. For more on the author and her work, visit VictoriaHelenStone.com.  And on Twitter @VictoriaDahl

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N  

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!

Tour Participants:

March 17 – fundinmental – REVIEW

March 17 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

March 17 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

March 18 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW  

March 18 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

March 19 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 19 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

March 20 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW

March 20 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

March 21 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 21 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

March 22 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

March 22 – This Is My Truth Now – SPOTLIGHT

March 23 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW

March 23 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

 Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this thriller!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

A Field Guide to Homicide (A Cat Latimer Mystery Book 6) by Lynn Cahoon – a #BookReview #cozymystery

A Field Guide to Homicide by Lynn CahoonBook Blurb:

Cat Latimer and her writer’s retreat group go on a hiking trip—but a murderer has been lurking off the beaten path . . .
 
Cat’s sweetheart, Seth, is going all out on an outing into the local mountains—for the benefit of the writing group Cat’s hosting at her Colorado B&B. But when they try to identify some plant and animal life, they find death instead. The body belongs to a man with a gold claim a few miles away. Instead of striking it rich, he’s been struck down.

To his surprise, Seth recognizes the victim from his military days—and up to now believed he’d already died during his last tour of duty. Now Cat has to solve this mystery before the killer takes a hike . . .

My Review:

Loved the concept of a writer’s retreat for authors, written by an author, about authors learning to be authors. Or readers who enjoy reading about it! It’s bound to be a cozy narrative in a beautiful locale in a small town setting.

Cat (Catherine) Latimer has the perfect location and large home remodeled as a B&B and found her niché, the writer’s retreats. (She is a successful writer, formerly teacher.) Full when she wants, quiet when she needs it to be. Covington College is located within walking distance and accommodates Cat’s guests in the library. She has an amazing best friend, Shauna, a buddy from California who moved back to Colorado to help with the B&B, cook amazing meals, and cleans the rooms. Cat has a boyfriend, Seth, a first love from high school and an uncle who is a police detective.

A Field Guide to Homicide by Lynn CahoonIn Book 6, Seth discovers that the body Cat finds with her group while hiking is a former Army buddy of his. There is only one problem: he was supposed to have been killed while they were still in Germany, and that was ten years ago. Seth had joined the Army thinking they’d wed when he returned. In the meantime, however, Cat marries Michael who was full of surprises. She receives the house after his untimely death.

As a character-driven cozy, the mystery trundles along while Cat discovers her new group is unique–two couples and one college student. The latter doesn’t exactly fit in and almost immediately the two couples click and proceed to produce activity separate from Cat’s usual agenda. There is the hike, but it ended with the discovery of the body. I don’t see her providing guidance in a lot of group discussions or learning moments and it’s handy she has Shauna who handles the bulk of the physical work. But Shauna has a problem of her own, providing a separate little (almost) sub-plot. Then there is the tension between her and Seth and my question, does she really love him or not? Given the little time they have to be together, she doesn’t exactly jump to take advantage of it.

There seemed a few plot holes; missing elements. (Was it because this is my first experience with the author and the series?) Seth didn’t want to introduce his Army buddies to Cat, which I found rather odd, so we don’t know much about them. Cat manages to get a name she can investigate and discovers the deceased had a local girlfriend that she was able to interview. She manages to glean a few tidbits and coordinates with her uncle.

We really don’t get development of the guests with the exception of the college kid and she did impart some wise writerly wisdom to him. (One of the couples takes snide verbal pot-shots at each other.) Uncle Pete plays a large part as does his sweetheart, an ex-cop who flies in to see him but is caught up in his absence with the murder investigation. There are red herrings that have you focusing first on one possible perp, then another, none quite making sense. The why is a biggee: how did he manage to leave Germany, come back to Colorado and be living off grid for so long? Ah, yes, but then we get little off-hand remarks that drop clues like crumbs leading back to the who. Did you pay attention?

I enjoyed the author’s writing style, but not the length of time that it took to lay all the elements to examine. There were quotables and old sayings, “We work in fact here, not maybes.” And “…make sure she knows that no is a complete sentence.” (Loved that one!) “A high tide floats all boats.”

The novel takes some time to get into, moving rather slowly for me and appeared to be one that suggests the reader might be better served to begin with Book 1 of the series. The conclusion wraps up loose ends and confirms the motive, which became obvious earlier, and has Seth taking the next step with Cat. (Perhaps that’s a step he should reconsider.) I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review and these are my own opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Animal Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books
ISBN: 149671685X
ASIN: B07R9SXCQ8
Print Length: 290 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! January 28, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Field Guide to Homicide
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Lynn Cahoon - authorThe Author: Get a free story at http://www.lynncahoon.com.

Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. She also pens the Cat Latimer series available in mass market paperback. And, because she can’t help telling stories, she also writes the Farm to Fork series. Romance novels are published under the pen name, Lynn Collins. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and three fur kids. Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.lynncahoon.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

A Cry in the Night (Detective Jessica Daniel thriller series Book 15 by Kerry Wilkinson – a #BookReview #thriller

A Cry in the Night by Kerry WilkinsonBook Blurb:

‘Mom?’ The word caught in the boy’s throat. She didn’t try to speak, didn’t roll towards him. She didn’t move at all.

In the middle of the night, fourteen-year-old Samuel is woken by the sound of a terrified scream from the kitchen of his home on a quiet street. The police – finding him sobbing on the kitchen floor, cradling his mother’s lifeless body – hit a dead end before the investigation has even begun: because although he witnessed the murder, Samuel is blind.

But when Detective Jessica Daniel meets the boy, the way he uses just his sense of sound to accurately locate her hand to shake it convinces her that this clever young teenager could hold the key to the entire case. Her team disagrees, but Jessica will do whatever it takes to get justice for the innocent.

Samuel’s description of an intruder he heard walking with a limp leads Jessica to an isolated seaside town, where a well-liked local man has been missing for days. Breaking into his house, Jessica finds him lying flat on the bed, a bullet wound under his chin.

Digging into the victim’s work records, Jessica uncovers a secret he shared with Samuel’s mother, and it’s clear she was terrified for her son’s safety. As Jessica pushes the boundaries to get closer to the truth, her most trusted colleague warns that she needs to watch her step… but Jessica won’t stop until she’s found the killer. Her career may be on the line, but so is Samuel’s life.

An absolutely unputdownable thriller, packed with twists and turns, perfect for fans of Robert Dugoni, Rachel Caine and Kendra Elliot. A Cry in the Night is just one of the many page-turning reads in the Jessica Daniel series. Each can be read as a standalone.

My Review:

I really like Jessica Daniel. She feels genuine. She pushes boundaries, has her gains and losses, but is generally an efficient detective inspector who gets her man (or woman, as the case may be). She reminds me somewhat of the character Danny in Blue Bloods–edgy but effective. It may be her droll sense of humor, that biting wit, that lightens the sensitive issues, but she can usually detect the line drawn that shouldn’t be crossed.

A Cry in the Night by Kerry WilkinsonIn Book 15, there is a blind fourteen-year old who “witnesses” the violent death of his mother. He is a keen observant who uses echolocation that helps him share the scene with the police. While Jessica had not actually seen the phenomenon before and has some misgivings as to how accurately his descriptions are, she is nonetheless impressed.

There is also something else, unrelated to the cases she and partner Detective Constable Archie Davey are handling. Archie is acting weird, causing tension between the two of them, blowing hot and cold. What is going on with him?!

Author Wilkinson weaves a clever, suspense-driven and well-plotted storyline focusing on Jessica and investigation progress, but again, for me, it’s the characters and the free and easy prose-filled descriptions given to them as well as the people of Manchester that drive the story. The banter between characters lends the authentic feeling of overhearing their actual dialogue. The depiction of Grimsby is priceless. (My grandfather spent a year fishing with the men there and dedicated his book Sons of the Sea to them.)

The conclusion results in a mixed bag of explanations, anxiety, and strongly hints at the story arc for Book 16, along with cliffhanging situations that resulted in my going back to see if I’d missed a page, that last one being so abrupt. The cliffhanger is a douzy and while this one may function fine as a standalone, you may wish to get this one for sure so you will be ready for Book 16.

I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I really enjoy this series, love these characters, and now anxiously looking forward to Book 16…what happens??!

Book Details:

Genre: Financial Thrillers, Heist Thrillers, Crime Thrillers
Publisher: Bookouture
ASIN: B081753ZP4
Print Length: 356 pages
Publication Date: To be released January 15, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Cry in the Night

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 Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Kerry Wilkinson - authorThe Author: Kerry Wilkinson has had No.1 crime bestsellers in the UK, Australia, Canada, South Africa and Singapore. He has also written two top-20 thrillers in the United States. His book, Ten Birthdays, won the RNA award for Young Adult Novel of the Year in 2018.

As well as his million-selling Jessica Daniel series, Kerry has written the Silver Blackthorn trilogy – a fantasy-adventure serial for young adults – a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter, plus numerous standalone novels. He has been published around the world in more than a dozen languages.

Originally from the county of Somerset, Kerry has spent far too long living in the north of England, picking up words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’.

When he’s short of ideas, he rides his bike, hikes up something, or bakes cakes. When he’s not, he writes it all down.

Recent and upcoming UK releases:
The Unlucky Ones (Jessica Daniel 14): 9 July 2019
Close To You: 17 October 2019
A Cry In The Night (Jessica Daniel 15): 15 Jan 2020

Find out more at: http://kerrywilkinson.com or http://facebook.com/KerryWilkinsonBooks

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Release Blitz for A Drummer in Red by Gordon Saunders for @RABTBookTours

I am thrilled to be a participant today in this #releaseblitz for A Drummer in Red, a YA Historical Fiction, Young America series Book 1. 

YA Historical Fiction
Published Date: 1-8-20
Publisher: INtense Publications LLC
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

Lewis Elliot and his mother, Stella, are forced to flee their Baltimore home for the modest farm of their cousins in Gloucester County, Virginia. They arrive just as the feared Lord Cornwallis and the hated Colonel Banastre Carleton take up residence in Gloucester Point and across the York River in Yorktown. The war heats up as Cornwallis fortifies Yorktown and Carleton begins foraging raids in Gloucester County.

Then, while Lewis and his cousins, Lloyd and Tetty, are off to Gloucester Courthouse to try to sell enough tobacco to provide for the family, Carleton raids the farm and Stella receives a life-threatening injury.
Through battle, betrayal, unexpected alliances, and, apparently, the Hand ofGod, Lewis and his cousins and friends take a role in the events leading to Cornwallis’s surrender on October 19, 1781, after the last major battle of the Revolutionary War.
About the Author

Growing up in Boston, and living in four countries in Europe over 25 years, gave Dr. Saunders a desire to know and share the history that’s shaped the world we live in today.

Contact Links
Publisher Links
RABT Book Tours & PR

 

Shattered Justice (A Bone Gap Travellers Novel Book 3) by Susan Furlong – a #BookReview #thriller

Gritty, raw, and unrelenting but war-damaged ex-Marine Irish Traveller. Where is the justice?

Shattered Justice by Susan FurlongBook Blurb:

In the Appalachian town of Bone Gap, Tennessee, backwoods justice is more than just blind. It’s swift, silent, and shockingly personal. Especially for Irish Traveller turned deputy sheriff Brynn Callahan . . .
 
“Hear No Evil.”

The first message is found in a playground. A few feet away, a  pair of human ears hang from the monkey bars. Deputy sheriff Brynn Callahan isn’t sure what to make of this grisly scene. Do the ears belong to a murder victim? And if so, where is the body? One thing Brynn is sure of: the earring on one of the earlobes belongs to a man she met at a party the previous night.  . .
 
“Speak No Evil.”

The second message is discovered next to a human tongue on a park pavilion. Once again, no body is found. Brynn can’t help but wonder if the crimes are rooted in the town’s long-simmering tensions between Bone Gap locals and the barely tolerated Travellers who’ve settled there.
 
“See No Evil.”

For Brynn, the investigation hits too close to home—forcing her to confront the demons of her own past. But time is running out. Brynn has to track down the culprit before a third message is delivered—and a third victim is claimed. Rich, atmospheric, and brilliantly chilling, Shattered Justice is the third Bone Gap Travellers novel from the acclaimed author of Splintered Silence and Fractured Truth.

My Thoughts

Shattered Justice by Susan FurlongAnother intense, book-hooking entry to the Bone Gap Travellers series that has you alternately cringing and then reading faster. Ex-Marine Brynn Callahan returned to her family home after an IED ended both her tours and that of her cadaver dog, Wilco. But it wasn’t easy to return to the Appalachians with her Irish Travellers (or Pavees) and assume a job with local law enforcement (the “settled”), straddling both sides from a community that keeps to themselves and wields their own sense of law enforcement.

Brynn is still suffering from PTSD, as is her dog, and daily struggles with staying clean of the relief she found in dealing with the pain and trauma of those horrific scars. Her first-person dialogue plops you squarely in her head and the fight is unrelenting. Brynn languishes on the fringe between the settled, answering to Pusser who directs her investigations as she deals at home with her own tight-knit neighbors.

Obviously, this novel sets the old saying on edge as ears are found followed by a severed tongue, but the plot won’t be that simple and soon revisits the closely held secret of her beloved Gran setting a strong distraction.  There must be two bodies, but they are missing. Are they connected to the Pavee brought in, Mo’s husband?

The author has an amazing writing style, often producing quotable moments, “…gray, that undefined color in between black and white, the color of limbo, the zone between life and death,” and

“Did you learn anything from your slip, Brynn?” My eyes snapped back to Margaret…Why, yes, Margaret, I learned that Black Label whiskey is worth every damn penny…”

“And when they surface, we suddenly know: we are all victims of our past and vulnerable in our present.”

Brynn is intelligent, flawed, and damaged but between her investigation and Wilco’s help, she’ll ferret out the truth, as deeply buried as it is. The well-developed support characters provide a graphic mindset along with descriptions of the deeply wooded mountains, foreboding and sinister, hides more than the Travellers. A profoundly disturbing depiction moves forefront along with some stomach-turning descriptions. The dialogue is brutal, many times raw, threatening, and the tension builds to a massively intricate conclusion and one you won’t guess. Actually, it could be assumed you stopped trying and just raced through to the heart-stopping climax.

I was given a digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and am extremely grateful for the opportunity to read and review my third book in this series–and looking forward to Book 4. Recommended to any looking for a unique premise and genuinely engaging mystery. This might standalone, but you’ll miss a lot of backstory if you don’t start at the beginning. 4.5/5 stars

His Thoughts

Justice in the backwoods of Tennessee. Can there be such a thing? Ms. Furlong writes a compelling novel about just such a query. This novel is fast moving and at times graphically gruesome. Add a war broken detective and a three-legged dog and you have a read hard to put down!

Brynn is the detective who is scarred from three tours with the US Marines. She has internal demons as well as the perpetrators she is working to bring to justice. She and her dog are both victims of an IED (improvised explosive device). Pain pills and other drugs as well as alcohol are also demons that must be defeated by our detective.

The perpetrators are a related family of women who work to bring justice to their part of the world. A moral code inherent in this society of misfits called Travellers or Pavees cloud the investigation. The women show extraordinary abilities to evade their pursuers.

The layout of the book and the end result left a little to be desired. The reason for the violence is a thread throughout the book which seems apparent. One suicide which was not a suicide, inept police work and inter-clan justice and you have a web full of holes.

Following the clues to the killer or killers is not easy. Ms. Furlong throws in the struggles that many returning military face trying to meld back into society. I found some of them to be red herrings that tended to leave my crime-solving forensic training yelling “WHAT?!”

As with many cozy type mysteries, I find the denigration of the males in the police force a little tedious. Certainly one would expect clashes between the male and female detectives, but not to the extent posed by Ms. Furlong and Harris. It is a common perception by society and the interaction of men and women in the work force. However, this seems a little gratuitous. As society evolves, the movement to have total equality in all areas seems contrived. The issue is well developed in Ms. Furlong’s plot.

The ending of the book is why I did not give it five stars. Out of nowhere another antagonist emerges. Again, a female who seems to be as bent on justice as the primary villain. This is a serious blindsiding in the development of the plot and its’ conclusion. The gruesome crimes seemed overdone and the end story left me asking the question, WHY? Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

Ms. Furlong’s discussion narrative at the end of the novel is a good planning tool. It certainly helps to develop the overall novel in the reader’s mind. I can see where a group discussion may very well lead to a better understanding of the issues and problems faced by veterans in general. My hat is off to her as a very good writer and an understanding human being. 4/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496711726
  • ISBN-13:978-1496711724
  • ASIN: B07NX1X3HP

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! December 31, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Shattered Justice

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Susan Furlong - authorThe Author: Susan Furlong the author of several mystery series including the acclaimed Bone Gap Travellers series. She also contributes to the New York Times bestselling Novel Idea Mysteries under the pen name Lucy Arlington. She has worked as a freelance writer, academic writer, ghost writer, translator, high-school language arts teacher, and martial arts instructor. She and her family live in central Illinois. Visit her on Facebook or at http://www.susanfurlong.com.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Sealed Off (A Maine Clambake Mystery Book 8) by Barbara Ross – a #BookReview #cozymystery

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Sealed Off by Barbara Ross

Book Blurb:

Early October is “winding down” time in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, but there’s nothing relaxing about it for Julia Snowden. Between busloads of weekend leaf peepers at the Snowden Family Clambake and a gut renovation of the old mansion on Morrow Island, she’s keeping it all together with a potentially volatile skeleton crew—until one of them turns up dead under the firewood.

When the Russian demo team clearing out the mansion discovers a room that’s been sealed off for decades, Julia’s baffled as to its purpose and what secrets it might have held. Tensions are already simmering with the crew, but when one of the workers is found murdered, things come to a boil. With the discovery of another body—and a mysterious diary with Cyrillic text in the hidden room—the pressure’s on Julia to dig up a real killer fast. But she’ll have to sort through a pile of suspects, including ex-spouses, a spurned lover, and a recently released prisoner, to fish out one clammed-up killer.

My Review:

I so enjoy the stories of the Snowden Family Clambakes on Busman’s Harbor, Maine. The family built a large mansion and completed the Morrow Island clambake business with fire pits, picnic tables, and covered pavilion to lend the perfect Maine lobster experience to the tourists. Unfortunately, the old mansion was left empty and in a sad state of deterioration after 1929 suffered a devastating fire a couple years ago. They are now in the process of a complete renovation.

Sealed Off by Barbara RossArriving on the island to complete prep for one of the last days’ clambakes of the season, Julia Snowden discovers a body underneath the woodpile.

But there’s more…

A dual plot pops up when the demolition crew at the mansion opens a room that had been totally enclosed with the inhabitant’s personal effects still in the wardrobe and drawers. OMG! I got totally sucked into the interior room next to the nursery, sealed off and hidden. I love story ARC twists like this! Even more delicious, a diary is discovered in the underwear drawer dating 1898.

Now you know Julia is going to have to work on the murder cause the main and most obvious suspect is her boyfriend’s brother, an ex-con. Oops! Forget thinking this will be a simple mystery. There are twists and obvious suspects, ticked off the list one by one. Still, I had suspicions, but wasn’t sure right up until the reveal. Then, oh yeah, we knew this wouldn’t be an easy solve and it involved an unpleasant trope.

Then the governess who wrote the diary–what in the world happened to her? It’s totally engaging with deep plunges into genealogy and web searches, gleaning names one by one.

As always with the Maine Clambake series, it’s easy to invest in the narrative and the delightful small fishing village, the lobstermen jargon, boating terms, and perspectives on weather and waves. You can smell the salt air and crave those fresh dishes. (YES! Fresh is a whole different kettle of fish! One of our fond memories is the breakdown of the old VW bus we had full of Pacific crab. What could we do? Waiting for help, we gorged on fresh crab!) Anyway, the Snowden family has such a history and calls on one of their oldest for this one, sharing memories of the mansion, delightful foods (recipes at the end of the book) and descriptions of the colorful northern state.

The conclusion draws both plots to a satisfying close, neatly tying loose ends, except one: Julia’s boyfriend…stay tuned.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and was thrilled to get another Maine Clambake mystery to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy an immersive location, interesting characters, and complex but satisfying plots.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496717953
  • ISBN-13:978-1496717955
  • ASIN: B07Q7X57MG

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Sealed Off+Add to Goodreads
Barbara Ross - authorThe Author: Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries and the Jane Darrowfield Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. Barbara’s Maine Clambake novellas are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in three holiday anthologies from Kensington Publishing. Barbara and her husband live in Portland, Maine.

[Goodreads] Barbara Ross is the author of seven Maine Clambake Mysteries. The eighth, Sealed Off, will be released in December 2019. Her novellas featuring Julia Snowden are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in the anthologies Eggnog MurderYule Log Murder and Haunted House Murder.

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody, the first book in a new mystery series, was released in June 2019.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Verse and Vengeance: A Magical Bookshop Mystery by Amanda Flower – a #BookReview

Wouldn’t you love to visit this most unusual bookshop!

Verse and Vengeance by Amanda FlowerBook Blurb:

With the help of Walt Whitman’s works, magical bookshop owner Violet Waverly puts her pedal to the metal to sleuth a bicycle-race murder that tests her mettle.

A bicycle race is not Charming Books proprietor Violet Waverly’s idea of a pleasant pastime. But police chief David Rainwater wheelie wants them to enter the Tour de Cascade as a couple, so she reluctantly consents.

The Tour de Cascade is the brainchild of Violet’s Grandma Daisy. The race is a fundraiser to build the Cascade Springs Underground Railroad Museum. But not everyone in this Niagara Region village supports the race. As if the bike race weren’t tiring enough, pesky private investigator Joel Redding is snooping around Charming Books. It takes all of Violet’s and Grandma Daisy’s ingenuity to keep Redding from discovering the shop’s magical essence–which communicates with Violet through books.

When Redding perishes in an accident during the race, David discovers that the brake line of the private eye’s bike was cut. Worse, Violet tops his list of suspects. As Emerson the tuxedo cat and resident crow Faulkner look on, Charming Books steers Violet to the works of Walt Whitman to solve the crime. But no other names ring a bell as culprits, and as David’s investigation picks up speed, Violet will have to get in gear to clear her name.

My Review:

Verse and Vengeance by Amanda FlowerProtagonist Violet Waverly is “Caretaker” of the magical birch tree located inside the Charming Books bookshop. Her grandmother, Daisy, also works in the bookshop when she is not fulfilling her duties as the new mayor of Cascade Springs. She has begun a project to provide an Underground Railroad Museum in the village hall. Also prominently featured are Faulkner the resident talking crow who lives in the branches of the tree and Emerson, the black and white tuxedo cat. The fourth in the series and my second, I’ve had no problem reading each entry as a standalone.

Grandma Daisy has urged both Violet and her boyfriend, police chief, David Rainwater, to ride in the Tour de Cascade, a major event meant to provide construction funds for her project, but before the ride is completed, Violet comes upon the fatal accident of private investigator Joel Redding. The shop’s magical “essence,” quietly deposits hints to her about the murder in the works by Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass.

Violet is still not completely confident of David and won’t divulge her secrets re the bookshop. There is one major perp which Violet steadfastly refuses to believe and works to get to the bottom of who and why. She is a no-nonsense, direct question type of amateur sleuth and there are twists and turns in this well-plotted mystery. The narrative proceeds at an even pace and the fictitious setting of the small tourist town near Niagara Falls is descriptive and inviting. Also, I enjoyed little bits of humor, i.e. “I swear the man could wax on about dryer lint.”

Birch tree However, poetry quotes from Whitman (not one of my favs) on a cell phone Kindle app are difficult to read and interrupt the flow. I’m still having difficulty imagining the interior with the tree (aka The Goddess Tree) and spiral staircase to a second-floor apartment. It’s a paranormal–must swallow some disbelief. There are elements that are not wholly explained in the surprising conclusion and as an ARC edit misses and a few detail contradictions.

I was granted this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read for my unbiased review. I am looking forward to Book 5 and recommend to all who enjoy an easy, fast cozy read with a touch of paranormal and romance.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Ghost Mysteries
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

  • ISBN-10:1643851519
  • ISBN-13:978-1643851518
  • ASIN: B07NTYQQM4

Print Length: 260 pages
Publication Date: To be released December 10, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Verse and Vengeance
 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three-point Five of Five Stars 3.5-stars

Amanda Flower - authorThe Author: Amanda Flower, a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel and her children’s mysteries, Andi Unexpected and Andi Under Pressure, were an Agatha Award Nominees for Best Children’s/YA Novel. Andi Unstoppable won the Agatha Award for Best Children’s/YA Novel 2015. Amanda is a former librarian living in northeast Ohio. Visit her at http://www.amandaflower.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Birch Tree Attribution: The Goddess Tree

A Cold Trail (Tracy Crosswhite Book 7) by Robert Dugoni – a #BookReview

It’s an unusual Tracy Crosswhite mystery away from her Seattle station and home and into a whole new and dangerous setting.

A Cold Trail by Robert DugoniBook Blurb:

The last time homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite was in Cedar Grove, it was to see her sister’s killer put behind bars. Now she’s returned for a respite and the chance to put her life back in order for herself, her attorney husband, Dan, and their new daughter. But tragic memories soon prove impossible to escape.

Dan is drawn into representing a local merchant whose business is jeopardized by the town’s revitalization. And Tracy is urged by the local PD to put her own skills to work on a new case: the brutal murder of a police officer’s wife and local reporter who was investigating a cold-case slaying of a young woman. As Tracy’s and Dan’s cases crisscross, Tracy’s trail becomes dangerous. It’s stirring up her own haunted past and a decades-old conspiracy in Cedar Grove that has erupted in murder. Getting to the truth is all that matters. But what’s Tracy willing to risk as a killer gets closer to her and threatens everyone she loves?

My Review:

Boy was I excited to see another of the Tracy Crosswhite series coming out! I’ve read several of Dugoni’s books, including one not in the Crosswhite series and enjoyed each one. While Book 7 may be read as a standalone, you might wish to begin with Book 1 to really get how each of the main characters has evolved to this point.

A Cold Trail by Robert DugoniIn A Cold Trail, Tracy is a new mom with a two-month-old (Daniella) still on maternity leave from Seattle while her attorney husband, Dan, has arranged for their return to their hometown of Cedar Grove to the former home of his parents while they are renovating their home in Seattle. Dan has taken on a client fighting the sale of his downtown business and building. Most of the others sold for a nominal price with the promise they would be completely rehabbed and brought up current codes with new dynamic owners.

But Tracy is barely getting acquainted with the nanny Dan arranged for help with the baby before she is approached by the former police chief to look into the death of a journalist and a former attorney turned PI. The young woman (the journalist) was investigating the cold case of a woman who was murdered more than twenty years previous. Putting her homicide detective hat back on has both disturbed Dan and Tracy as well, questioning her safety while leaving an infant at home.

The well-plotted storyline quickly divides between that of her investigation in the cold cases and Dan’s legal maneuvers with regard to the revitalization of the downtown area and the handling of the properties. The legal complexities get interesting and educational while the cold cases Tracy is working on beginning to worry the antagonist.

The cast of support characters shift somewhat with them being in Cedar Grove and in their stead are more support characters with lots of personality, full fleshed (Vic). The Irish nanny is super until deemed at risk and whisked away for safer climes. The reader gets that old mother’s conundrum, staying home or working away from her child (especially an infant and in this case in a hazardous profession) while the men are free to carry on with their careers with no public ramifications.

I like that Tracy is still, at heart, a strong, independent, and intelligent woman and skillful at her job. She can handle most any situation. If Dan didn’t think he wanted her working out of the house away from his baby, why then hire the nanny, who got awfully convenient. The narrative begins to swing back and forth between her cases and his, trading off in a melding or juxtaposition of timeline. Clever! The book hooks you in and holds the reader in a riveting and complicated tale through the great reveal, one you might have guessed, but still surprised.

Tracy working an active investigation, however, and expressing (two bottles) of breast milk for the nanny to use while she was off just didn’t ring true for me. (You might wish to revisit the issue of breastfeeding, Robert.)

I received this ARC digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and was thrilled for the opportunity to read and review. I really enjoy this series and greatly look forward to Book 8. Recommended for all mystery fans and I think you’ll also enjoy the courtroom tactics.

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedurals, Women Sleuths, Murder
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN: 1542093228
ASIN: B07NXPN3B8
Print Length: 355 pages
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Cold Trail
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

robert dugoniThe Author: Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and #1 Amazon bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite police detective series set in Seattle, which has sold more than 5 million books worldwide. He is also the author of The Charles Jenkins espionage series, and the David Sloane legal thriller series.

His stand-alone novels include The 7th Canon, Damage Control, and the literary novel, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell – Suspense Magazine’s 2018 Book of the Year, for which Dugoni’s narration won an AudioFile Earphones Award; as well as the nonfiction exposé The Cyanide Canary, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Several of his novels have been optioned for movies and television series.

Dugoni is the recipient of the Nancy Pearl Award for Fiction and the Friends of Mystery Spotted Owl Award for best novel set in the Pacific Northwest. He is also a two-time finalist for the International Thriller Award, the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, the Silver Falchion Award for mystery, and the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award.

Robert Dugoni’s books are sold in more than twenty-five countries and have been translated into more than two dozen languages.

Visit his website at http://www.robertdugoni.com, and follow him on twitter @robertdugoni and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorRobertDugoni

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Scarlet Fever: A Novel (“Sister” Jane) by Rita Mae Brown #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway #cozymystery

Scarlet Fever by Rita Mae Brown

I am delighted today to provide our reviews for you at my blog stop for Scarlet Fever by Rita Mae Brown on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.

Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Book Details

Scarlet Fever: A Novel (“Sister” Jane)
Cozy Mystery
12th in Series
Ballantine Books (November 26, 2019) Happy Publication Day!
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 0593130006
ISBN-13: 978-0593130001
Digital ASIN: B07P8J8KVM

Book Blurb

Winter blizzards bring a flurry of cases to solve in this riveting new foxhunting mystery featuring “Sister” Jane Arnold and her incorrigible hounds from New York Times bestselling author Rita Mae Brown.

Frigid February air has settled into the bones of the Blue Ridge Mountains, making for a slow foxhunting season, though “Sister” Jane Arnold’s enthusiasm is not so easily deterred. With the winter chill come tweed coats, blazing fireplaces—and perhaps another to share the warmth with, as the bold hunting scarlets worn by the men in Sister Jane’s hunting club make the hearts of women flutter—until someone’s stops entirely.

Harry Dunbar, a member of the Jefferson Hunt club with a penchant for antique furniture, is found with his skull cracked at the bottom of the stairs to a local store. There are no telltale signs of foul play—save for the priceless (and stolen) Erté fox ring in his pocket. Sister and her hounds set out to uncover the truth: was this simply an accident—a case of bad luck—or something much more sinister?

Steeped in the deep traditions of Virginia horse country and featuring a colorful cast of characters both two- and four-legged, Scarlet Fever is another spirited mystery from Rita Mae Brown.

My Thoughts

This is classed as a cozy animal mystery, but was still a surprise. The author presents a number of POVs including those of the foxes, hounds, horses, as well as humans. And humans–there’s a bunch of them. Protagonist Sister (Jane Arnold) functions as Master of Foxhounds for the Jefferson Hunt and has quite the rep as a competent leader. It’s fox-hunting season, frigid out there in the Virginia hills looking at the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the foxes are plentiful.

And smart.

No, really smart. I had no idea.

There is a whole language to learn with the fox-hunting business, and try as I might, I still don’t understand the whole reasoning. Kinda like the fishing “catch and release.” This is a tight-knit, well-to-do community with tons ‘o bucks tied in fox-hunting hounds, gorgeous and fleet-footed Thoroughbreds, some Bays, and a wardrobe to die for. The boots would cost my monthly income. The term scarlet refers to the recent predominance of the color with people buying coats off the rack rather than being tailored.

This narrative opens a world you might only have been briefly aware, perhaps a sport associated more with the English (or the French?). It’s a lesson that takes some time in immersion, but there is a death that looks suspicious. There is an undercurrent of interest and discussion of exquisite antiques, drug and opioid problems, and the plight of the aged and oft less than sympathetic treatment of patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

My introduction to the series and this author would be Book 12 and with the complex cast of characters, you might wish to begin with Book 1. Somewhat slow to start, the well-plotted mystery moves you headlong into a world you’ve never imagined. I particularly enjoyed the conversation between the animals, not just between the dogs, but species to species.

“…hunting can be so unpredictable. One soon sees who has courage, who has brains, and who has both. Truthfully, the horses have more of both than the humans.” 

The author has an interesting no-nonsense way of laying out the facts in a droll and unemotional manner. The conclusion is not wholly unexpected and there is no horrific life or death struggle at the climax. Loose threads are joined. I was, however, intrigued by the description of the hunt or tailgate breakfasts.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. 

His Review

Be patient! I thought this book started slowly with 27 pages of introduction of the characters. I was about to abandon it but got into the tale. Masterfully contrived the story held interest and suspense for me. A world I have only seen pictures of opened up. Fox hunting has always seemed gratuitous for the rich and really out of reach for average folk.

Ms. Brown has evolved the characters into personalities both human and canine.  The older foxes had many traits that older humans have. A den becomes a sanctuary for individuals and not families. It seems except for breeding season, the fox either vixen or reynard, prefers solitary living. They also have a penchant for sweets and human blankets and coats. Fun to explore their habitats and habits.

The author held my interest throughout the book including a couple of sub-plots that were neatly wrapped up at the end. She is the complete author and artist. Stick with this book and enjoy your reward. CE Williams

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Giveaway

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Rita Mae Brown - author

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries; the Sister Jane series; the Runnymede novels, including Six of One and Cakewalk; A Nose for Justice and Murder Unleashed; Rubyfruit Jungle; and In Her Day; as well as many other books. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia, and is a Master of Foxhounds and the huntsman.

Author Links 

Website – http://ritamaebrownbooks.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RitaMaeBrown

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Kobo – IndieBound

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!

Tour Participants:

November 25 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

November 25 – Reading Is My SuperPower – SPOTLIGHT

November 26 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

November 26 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

November 27 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

November 27 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

November 28 – THANKSGIVING – OFF

November 29 – Ebook addicts – SPOTLIGHT

November 29 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

November 30 – Laura’s Interests  – REVIEW

November 30 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 1 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

December 1 – This Is My Truth Now – SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – Literary Gold = SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

December 3 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 3 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

December 4 – My Reading Journeys – SPOTLIGHT

December 4 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

December 5 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

December 5 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this cozy mystery!

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Paw of the Jungle (A Paw Enforcement Novel Book 8) by Diane Kelly – a #BookReview #cozydog

Enjoy this K-9 service dog, police procedural, cozy animal mystery series.

Paw of the Jungle by Diane KellyBook Blurb:

Police officer Megan Luz and her K-9 partner in crime, Brigit, are on all fours as they try to solve their latest Lone Star mystery.

AT THE ZOO
The weather is beautiful, work is slow, and her canine colleague could use a walk. What better day for Megan to take Brigit to the Fort Worth Zoo, where they can let loose and witness the law and order of nature unfold? But what begins as a fun field trip turns serious when a pair of rare hyacinth macaws named Fabiana and Fernando goes missing. Is the new custodian, a gentle soul who happens to be an ex-convict, to blame? Or is something far more sinister afoot?

AND ON THE HUNT
The birds are worth thousands of dollars, and the list of people on the premises who might have stolen them is long. Soon other animals start disappearing. . .and Megan and Brigit have their hands and paws full of suspects. But when a rare black rhino is taken from the zoo, presumably for its black-market-friendly horn, time is of the essence. Can Megan and Brigit find out who’s behind the mystery—before they too become prey?

My Review:

I was introduced to this author and series last year when I was lucky enough to receive The Long Paw of the Law (see my review here). Fort Worth Texas officer, Megan Luz is back with her K-9 service dog, Brigit. Her favorite guy, Seth, also has a service dog, a yellow Lab named Blast. Seth is a bomb squad technician and firefighter.

Paw of the Jungle by Diane KellyOnce again, the story is told in multiple POVs, one being protagonist Megan, along with Brigit, and the antagonist, dubbed The Poacher, whose elevator never reaches the top floor. There are a number of great support characters, along with Derek, the “Big Dick” Mackey (“The donkey wasn’t the only jackass here.”), and Detective Bustamente. There is a little romance, the (male) Lab adores Brigit, and the romance between Seth and Megan doesn’t over-power the well-plotted mystery.

In this series entry, a number of valuable rings go missing about the same time as a pair of Hyacinth macaws go missing from the zoo. It is nearing Christmas and the mall is full, people in a rush and Megan isn’t sure that the ring owners haven’t just misplaced them. But the birds? No way could the regular zoo staff have allowed them to escape. Unfortunately, it’s not long before a member of the antelope family similarly goes missing. And then it just gets worse.

In the meantime, the reader is treated to a wealth of information regarding laws of hunting in Texas, game ranches and animal poachers, as well as ex-con recidivism rates depending on available prison rehab classes. I love the chapters devoted to Brigit and her take on humans, as well as the little hints of reading dog body language. (In 2015, law enforcement officers in Texas began receiving training in canine encounters, reducing the number of unnecessary canine deaths.) And always, the author’s sense of humor shines through, often injecting thought-provoking LOL moments.

In regard to using online tutorials to learn welding: “I’d used online tutorials myself. But despite watching three makeup lessons, I’d yet to master the smoky eye.”

The narrative grabs your attention immediately and keeps a fairly steady pace with the exception of explanatory bits noted above. Megan is working hard to test for detective grade and in the meantime the series has built an engaging set of characters you can’t help investing in. Entertaining atmospheric setting coupled with an intelligent and anthropomorphic glimpse into the psyche of a magnificent, intelligent canine partner.

I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy K-9 associated books, police procedurals, suspense, and sweet and easy pseudo cozy. Looking forward to Book 9!

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Dog Mysteries, Police Procedurals
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
ISBN: 1250197376
ASIN: B07P9LPNHB
Print Length: 365 pages
Publication Date: To be released November 26, 2019
strong>Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Paw of the Jungle
+Add to Goodreads 

[Rosepoint Publishing: 4.5 of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Diane Kelly - authorThe Author: A former tax advisor, Diane Kelly inadvertently worked with white-collar criminals on multiple occasions. Not surprisingly, Diane decided self-employment would be a good idea. Her fingers hit the keyboard and thus began her Death and Taxes romantic mystery series. A graduate of her hometown’s Citizen Police Academy, Diane Kelly also writes the hilarious K-9 cop Paw Enforcement series and the new House Flipper cozy mystery series.

Diane’s books have been awarded the prestigious Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Award and a Reviewers Choice Award.

Try a sample of Diane’s work, along with works by other cozy mystery authors, by checking out “Cozy Case Files” for free on Amazon Kindle.

Be the first to receive book news by signing up for Diane’s newsletter at http://www.dianekelly.com/ “Like” Diane on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/dianekellybooks. Follow her on Instagram at dianekellybooks and on Twitter @dianekellybooks.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Mercy Road by Ann Howard Creel – a #BookReview World War I #HistoricalFiction

I love books based on true stories–most especially about brave and trail-blazing women in our history.

Mercy Road by Ann Howard CreelBook Blurb:

Inspired by the true story of the World War I American Women’s Hospital, Mercy Road is a novel about love, courage, and a female ambulance driver who risks everything.

In 1917, after Arlene Favier’s home burns to the ground, taking her father with it, she must find a way to support her mother and younger brother. If she doesn’t succeed, they will all be impoverished. Job opportunities are scarce, but then a daring possibility arises: the American Women’s Hospital needs ambulance drivers to join a trailblazing, all-female team of doctors and nurses bound for war-torn France.

On the front lines, Arlene and her fellow ambulance drivers work day and night to aid injured soldiers and civilians. In between dangerous ambulance runs, Arlene reunites with a childhood friend, Jimmy Tucker, now a soldier, who opens her heart like no one before. But she has also caught the attention of Felix Brohammer, a charismatic army captain who harbors a dark, treacherous secret.

To expose Brohammer means risking her family’s future and the promise of love. Arlene must make a choice: stay in the safety of silence or take the greatest chance of her life.

My Review:

Mercy Road by Ann Howard CreelThe beautiful opening paragraphs of this novel grabs your attention with the fleet-footed and magnificent Tornado, the Favier Farms prized breeding stallion. The small privately-owned ranch had a reputation built for race-winning Thoroughbreds and the French-born master of the manor a special knack for finding the best. Unfortunately, the fire that ensues levels the house he and his wife lovingly built and where Arlene and her brother Luc were raised. It is after the devastating fire that also kills her father that they discover the truth of the finances.

Desperate for employment to keep family and farm together, Arlene discovers an unusual opportunity for a woman in 1918. Owing to her father teaching her French and how to drive (GASP! In 1918?), Arlene will ship over to the last vestiges of the war in France to drive an ambulance for the American Women’s Hospital Services (an amazing story in itself).

American Women's Hospital Services
Two uniformed women with American Women’s Hospitals Services, ca 1919. (Courtesy of Drexel University, College of Medicine, Archives & Special Collections) as posted on the Women’s Voices for Change

What follows is a narrative into the war-torn country now covered with destruction and desolation, ashes and shell-pocked country roads. The group Arlene arrives with gradually begin the acclimation into the effort but it takes a huge toll on the women–warned but still not prepared for just how bad it would be.

Arlene is fairly well developed, although not all support characters are. She is quickly pursued by a US officer and rejects his advances according to rules, but he is having none of that. In the meantime, she discovers a childhood acquaintance likewise driving an ambulance, but he for the Army. A reigniting proceeds between herself and Jimmy and the ensuing romance pops back and forth into the storyline.

Written in first person through Arlene, the story is well-plotted and the pace even albeit slowed by the irrational interest of the narcissistic officer and the romance with Jimmy. I enjoyed the informational bits of the ambulance, the countryside, the people of France and her connection through her father, as well as the description of the many rescues. Also, the reader is reminded of the catastrophic flu that swept the globe as well as the rampant diseases brought about by such savage conditions. There was a rather obvious but surprising note regarding another of the crew and the climax came with sinking heart. Still, the author manages to weave a plausible concluding scenario with most loose threads neatly tied.

I received this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. It’s gratifying that the contribution of women’s war efforts are beginning to come to light. And BTW, I absolutely love that cover! Recommended for any who enjoy historical fiction, WWI narratives, and positive achievements by women.

Book Details:

Genre: World War I Historical Fiction, Historical European Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

  • ISBN-10:1542041988
  • ISBN-13:978-1542041980
  • ASIN: B07PWF72XG

Print Length: 278 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day, November 19, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Mercy Road+Add to Goodreads

Ann Howard Creel - authorThe Author: Ann Howard Creel was born to write. By the age of ten she was writing daily in a diary, and by the age of twelve she had written an entire novel on a typewriter her father was getting ready to throw away. She worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, but the urge to write never left her. So after work and tending to children’s needs, she began to write again. During that time, she could have been found helping with math homework, making spaghetti, and writing a very drafty chapter all in the same night.

After first writing for children, she turned her attention to Historical Fiction. Her first novel for adults, THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS, was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie on CBS. Her recent titles have been Kindle bestsellers and include WHILE YOU WERE MINE, THE WHISKEY SEA, THE UNCERTAIN SEASON, and her latest, THE RIVER WIDOW.

She now writes full-time. Ann’s main characters are always strong women facing high-stakes situations and having to make life-changing decisions. Her historical settings have ranged from Victorian-era Galveston to World War II in New York City. Her next novel, MERCY ROAD, to be published in 2019, takes readers to World War I France.

Besides writing, Ann loves old houses, new yoga routines, and all things cat. Contact her via her website http://www.annhowardcreel.com or oonnect on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorannhowardcreel or Instagram: @annhowardcreel.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Dog I Loved: A Novel by Susan Wilson – a #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Brilliant, immersive, totally absorbing fiction reads like a true story.

(So good I couldn’t keep it to myself and I’m sharing this review with my associate, the CE.)

Book Blurb:

The Dog I Loved by Susan WilsonAfter spending years in prison for a crime she didn’t intend to commit, Rose Collins is suddenly free. Someone who knows about the good work she has done—training therapy dogs while serving time—has arranged for her early release. This mysterious benefactor has even set her up with a job in the coastal Massachusetts community of Gloucester, on the edge of Dogtown, a place of legend and, for the first time since Rosie’s whole world came crashing down, hope. There she works to rebuild her life with the help of Shadow, a stray dog who appears one rainy night and refuses to leave Rose’s side.

Meghan Custer is a wheelchair-bound war veteran who used to be hopeless, too. Living at home with her devoted but stifling parents felt a lot like being in prison, in fact. But ever since she was matched with a service dog named Shark, who was trained in a puppy-to-prisoner rehabilitation program, Meghan has a brand new outlook. Finally, she can live on her own. Go to work. And maybe, with Shark by her side, even find love again.

Two strong women on a journey toward independence whose paths collide in extraordinary ways. Two dogs who somehow manage to save them both. A tale of survival and a testament to the human spirit, The Dog I Loved is an emotional and inspiring novel that no reader will soon forget.

My Thoughts

This novel seizes you from the beginning and does not let go until you’ve read the last word of the last page and in between unfolds an amazingly written story that reads so realistic, so full of drama, it’s hard to believe this is fiction.

The Dog I Loved by Susan WilsonRosie experienced limited freedom when she left her family to live with Charles Foster in New York. He comes from old money, position, and education and almost from the beginning begins to separate Rosie from her family and friends. It quickly becomes obvious he can be demeaning and cruel. But his death is truly an accident, Rosie trying to prevent an accident, and through Charles’ mother’s contacts and her own incompetent PD, enters prison with a long sentence.

Before her horrific service-connected injury leaving her a paraplegic, Meghan was known as Captain Meghan “Buster” (though her real name is Custer). She is struggling with the loss of independence and over-protective and smothering parents until she learns of the service dog program trained by prisoners. She will meet Shark, the first dog trained by Rosie and during the orientation, the two damaged women bond.

When Rosie is suddenly exonerated and released after six years, she is also plunked into the position of overseer of a complete renovation of an early American property. The house is just outside Gloucester, a coastal city on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, at the remains of “DogTown,” a “village lost in time.” In the meantime, an unusually large and mysterious dog has entered Rosie’s life and she quickly bonds with the perceptive animal she names Shadow.

Author Susan Wilson has penned a masterful tale weaving modern-day storyline with that of an historical account of the enigmatic but remote area she is overseeing. There are several POV’s and all the characters are so fully engaging, including the fully-fleshed dogs, that the reader easily invests in each as well as the well-plotted and engaging narrative. You MUST know how this will turn out!

This absolutely amazing book hits so many tough subjects from women in prison to wounded warriors, PTSD, dysfunctional families, estrangement, and friendship. Unique plot–totally immersive. My first experience with this author won’t be the last and I’m off to see what else I can find written by this author. You owe it to yourself to grab this book releasing TODAY! Trust me, you’ll be glad you did–and you’re welcome!

His Thoughts

Can dogs really read minds, or is it their desire to please that makes them so responsive? Susan Wilson has combined a historical fiction format into a prisoner training dog scenario. An Irish lass, the only daughter in a family with five other siblings, Mary Rose Collins (Rosie)  is controlled and sheltered. Enter a spoiled rich kid of an entirely different social status and you have gas on water.

Rosie is dominated by older brothers and controlling parents. Her way out seems to be Charles Montgomery Foster who courts her but hides her because of her “poor side of the tracks” background. Gifts are given with obvious hooks and his mother disdains her.

Then a tragic accident kills Charles and his mother pushes stiff prosecution of Rosie. Her next twenty years will be in a correctional institution. A “prisoner training program” allows her to become involved with something other than the daily drudgery of prison life. She is tasked with training a Service Dog named Shark.

Meghan is a wounded warrior with a future in a wheelchair and only partial use of her body. The dog is a life-saver to both ladies. Two weeks together with the dog and the two women bond with each other as well as the dog.

Then Rosie’s prison sentence is suddenly vacated and she receives a job helping restore a centuries-old house.

Associate Reviewer - C E WilliamsSusan Wilson combines the history of the Massachusetts seashore with a love of dogs and has woven a fantastic tale. She adds another dog “Shadow” who comes into Rosie’s life when she needs him most. Overall the story is both heartwarming and complete in its amazing emotional development of the plot and characters.

I cannot endorse this book enough. Give yourself time because you will want to complete the book in a single setting. Thank you for the experience, Susan! 5/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Women’s Friendship Fiction
Publisher: St Martin’s Press

  • ISBN-10:1250078148
  • ISBN-13:978-1250078148
  • ASIN: B07PBNB7YJ

Print Length: 368 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day, November 12, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Dog I Loved
I was granted a download of this uncorrected digital galley by the publisher through NetGalley and was totally thrilled with this novel. It is one that will resonate for some time to come. Thank you St Martin’s Press! It’s officially a book hangover.

Book Handover

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Susan Wilson - authorThe Author: SUSAN WILSON is the author of ten novels, including the New York Times bestselling One Good Dog. In her most recent novel, TWO GOOD DOGS, the two main characters from One Good Dog, Adam March and his rescued pit bull Chance, make a return. She lives on Martha’s Vineyard. Visit her online at http://www.susanwilsonwrites.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Storm of Secrets by Loretta Marion – a Release Blitz and #Giveaway #Mystery #Paranormal #Romance @RABTBookTours

 I am so excited to provide a Book Blitz for you on my stop for #RABTBookTours

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Book two in the Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series
Mystery (with elements of the paranormal and whispers of romance)
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books, distributed by Penguin Random House
Date Published: November 12, 2019
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A deadly storm, a missing three-year-old child, a suspicious death, and the eerie presence of the spirits of the dead set the stage for the second mesmerizing installment of Loretta Marion’s paranormal suspense series.
A powerful storm descends upon Cape Cod’s Whale Rock at the peak of tourist season–and the weekend Cassandra Mitchell’s and Daniel Benjamin’s wedding is set to take place at The Bluffs, the magnificent Victorian mansion Cassie inherited from her family. In the wake of the storm’s destruction, three-year-old Lucas Kleister goes missing–and the body of small-time drug dealer Lee Chambers is found in a restaurant dumpster. Now, the WRPD are faced with a murder to solve, a missing child to find, and the aftermath of one of the worst storms in recent memory.
While aiding with the clean-up and helping the displaced, Cassie has been receiving cryptic messages from the spirits of her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, the original residents of The Bluffs. At first, the messages are benign, but soon, they begin to point to something more sinister. As Cassie works to decipher their meaning, the specter of a mysterious local legend surfaces. The tale of Barnacle Boy–and what happened to him during another destructive storm decades earlier–will weave through the desperate search to find Lucas and the identity of a killer.
“Modern and historic mysteries collide in Marion’s bittersweet storytelling.”
—Kirkus Reviews
 
“[A] gripping sequel…Marion seamlessly weaves the multiple story threads together. Fans of tales of regional intrigue will be satisfied.”
 

Excerpt

On the short walk to my car, a sparkle caught my eye on the ground near a temporary dumpster behind La Table, the new location of my old flame Billy Hughes’s catering business.
Later, I reflected on how different things would have been had I not been so curious.
What if I hadn’t had the dress fitting today? What if I hadn’t parked in Archie’s space? What if I hadn’t gone out the back door of his shop? What if I hadn’t gone over to examine what was glittering next to the dumpster?
“The what ifs and should haves will eat your brain.” It was a quote of John O’Callaghan’s, from his book of poetry entitled, Sincerely, John the Ghost—ironically, a gift from Zoe, who’d always eschewed the notion of Percy’s and Celeste’s spirits.
The point is, if I hadn’t done all those things, then I wouldn’t have seen that glint on the ground and gone over to check out what it was. Most crucially, I would never have noticed a hand through the rusted-out hole in the dumpster.
A very dead hand.
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About the Author

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A true bibliophile, Loretta Marion’s affection for the written word began in childhood and followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she crafted award-winning marketing and advertising copy and educational brochures. She then applied her writing skills as a volunteer, establishing a Legacy Story program for hospice patients, which inspired her to create her own fictional stories. Her debut novel, The Fool’s Truth, is a twisty mystery set in Maine. Her Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series is set on Cape Cod and was introduced by Crooked Lane Books in 2018 beginning with HOUSE OF ASHES. Her newest release, STORM OF SECRETS, is the second book of the series.
When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey.
Contact Links
Purchase Links
Amazon  
 
RABT Book Tours & PR
Thank you for viewing this book blitz and have a Happy Tuesday!
This Book Blitz Post - Brought to you by Rosepoint Publishing

 

The Angels’ Share: A Wine Country Mystery Book 10 by Ellen Crosby – a #BookReview #historymystery

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

“The angels’ share was the amount of alcohol or spirits lost to evaporation…anything that aged in barrels or casks.”

The Angels' Share by Ellen CrosbyBook Blurb:

Ellen Crosby pours up another corking mystery with The Angels’ Share, an intriguing blend of secret societies, Prohibition bootleg wine, and potentially scandalous documents hidden by the Founding Fathers, all of which yield a vintage murder.

When Lucie Montgomery attends a Thanksgiving weekend party for friends and neighbors at Hawthorne Castle, an honest-to-goodness castle owned by the Avery family, the last great newspaper dynasty in America and owner of the Washington Tribune, she doesn’t expect the festive occasion to end in death.

During the party, Prescott Avery, the 95-year old family patriarch, invites Lucie to his fabulous wine cellar where he offers to pay any price for a cache of 200-year-old Madeira that her great-great-uncle, a Prohibition bootlegger, discovered hidden in the US Capitol in the 1920s. Lucie knows nothing about the valuable wine, believing her late father, a notorious gambler and spendthrift, probably sold or drank it. By the end of the party Lucie and her fiancé, winemaker Quinn Santori, discover Prescott’s body lying in his wine cellar. Is one of the guests a murderer?

As Lucie searches for the lost Madeira, which she believes links Prescott’s death to a cryptic letter her father owned, she learns about Prescott’s affiliation with the Freemasons. More investigating hints at a mysterious vault supposedly containing documents hidden by the Founding Fathers and a possible tie to William Shakespeare. If Lucie finds the long-lost documents, the explosive revelations could change history. But will she uncover a three hundred-year-old secret before a determined killer finds her?

 My Review:

Yes, thrilled that I was given a download for The Angels’ s Share as I’d come late to the party (again) getting in at Book 9, Harvest of Secrets last November. (See that review here.) It was my first introduction to the wine country of Virginia. I still have a soft spot in my heart for the wine country of Napa, California, but this series has given me a burning desire to beat a hasty exit from Indiana to experience that special area around Jamestown. Mercy, the history!

The Angels' Share by Ellen CrosbyInterest was hooked immediately and, although a series, can work well as a standalone. So easy to become engaged with the characters, the locale, and the description of the wine. Protagonist Lucie Montgomery and fiancé Quinn Santori go back to the plush wine cellar to retrieve the cell phone left after a private discussion with Prescott Avery. There they discover the 95-year old patriarch and owner of Hawthorne Castle dead. His death is not the result of age or a fall, however, and the discussion she and Prescott held in private quickly sends her on a quest for three-hundred-year-old Madeira, possibly hidden in her own winery.

The Madeira though is only the top layer of the complex well-drawn plot, delving into the history of the area and the local Freemasons including their connection with the Founding Fathers. Lucie begins to notice the subtle hints of Shakespearean phrase referenced to centuries old documents and artifacts. In order to find the precious wine, she’ll have to correctly interpret the materials left in her father’s secret safety deposit box.

Concentrating on the mystery of the documents, the reader is immersed in fascinating and detailed early American history of the Jamestown triangle. I love the way the author ties ancient mythology to her stories, and indeed, this entry to the series had a great deal more to do with the history mystery than that of the winery getting ready for Christmas.

So much intriguing information, aways a lot going on, the storyline never slows and keeps the reader flipping pages, each one leaving another lesson or plot point in one of the layers. It is an immersive book you don’t want to put down and delivers the implied promise of the cover. Perhaps Shakespeare didn’t write his own plays? There is so much you don’t know that you don’t know.

I‘m looking forward to visiting again soon and heartily recommend this entry in the well-developed series to anyone who enjoys a high-speed romp into one of our country’s most beautiful and history-laden areas. I received this uncorrected digital galley from the publisher (thank you, Minotaur!!) and NetGalley and appreciate the opportunity to read and review.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuths
Publisher: Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250164850
  • ISBN-13:978-1250164858
  • ASIN: B07PBP8BVX

Print Length: 362 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day November 5, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Angels’ Share
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Ellen Crosby - authorThe Author: Ellen Crosby is the author of the Virginia wine country mysteries and two mysteries featuring international photojournalist Sophie Medina. In 2019, Minotaur Books will publish THE ANGELS’ SHARE, the 10th wine country mystery. Before writing fiction, Crosby worked as a freelance reporter for The Washington Post, an economist at the US Senate, and Moscow reporter for ABC Radio News. Visit her website at http://www.ellencrosby.com and follow her on Facebook at EllenCrosbyBooks, Twitter at @ellencrosby & Instagram at ellencrosbyauthor.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren – a #BookReview

Warning: This book contains offensive language, sexual references and phrases, drug references and aberrant behavior.

Book Blurb:

Janis: Her Life and Music by Jolly George-WarrenLonglisted for the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

This blazingly intimate biography of Janis Joplin establishes the Queen of Rock & Roll as the rule-breaking musical trailblazer and complicated, gender-bending rebel she was.

Janis Joplin’s first transgressive act was to be a white girl who gained an early sense of the power of the blues, music you could only find on obscure records and in roadhouses along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. But even before that, she stood out in her conservative oil town. She was a tomboy who was also intellectually curious and artistic. By the time she reached high school, she had drawn the scorn of her peers for her embrace of the Beats and her racially progressive views. Her parents doted on her in many ways, but were ultimately put off by her repeated acts of defiance.

Janis Joplin has passed into legend as a brash, impassioned soul doomed by the pain that produced one of the most extraordinary voices in rock history. But in these pages, Holly George-Warren provides a revelatory and deeply satisfying portrait of a woman who wasn’t all about suffering. Janis was a perfectionist: a passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it. She was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender and sexuality long before it was socially acceptable. She was a sensitive seeker who wanted to marry and settle down—but couldn’t, or wouldn’t. She was a Texan who yearned to flee Texas but could never quite get away—even after becoming a countercultural icon in San Francisco.

Written by one of the most highly regarded chroniclers of American music history, and based on unprecedented access to Janis Joplin’s family, friends, band mates, archives, and long-lost interviews, Janis is a complex, rewarding portrait of a remarkable artist finally getting her due.

My Review:

Janis by Holly George-Warren

I wonder how many decades back you’d have to go to find someone who doesn’t recognize the music or the name of Janis Joplin.

The “beatnik from Port Arthur, Texas” set a new high bar for uninhibited powerful, emotional singing by a woman in the mid-to-late sixties. Unleashing raw talent on a still poodle-skirted US exploring rock and roll, Joplin went “Full Tilt Boogie” with a full repertoire of blues, folk, and R&B following her rocky start in San Francisco in the hippie neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. For all that wildly barely contained talent, Joplin was a fiercely conflicted young woman, dying at the age of twenty-seven of a heroin overdose; China white.

The author begins the biography with a quick history of Seth and Dorothy Joplin, the singer’s parents and the “triangle” in Texas she haunted as a rebellious girl, always seeking her mother’s approval and her father’s love. School was not kind to Janis, deeply wounding her and sealing that mutinous daughter apart seeking her own persona. She was always different, more one of the boys than friends with her peers. Easy for her to discover an escape into music…and booze…and drugs…and sex.

It was a long, hard climb from the hard-scrabble life in San Francisco to fame around the world, with countless musicians and bands, unsustainable love, the search for success and fame. The author did an amazing job with researching, interviewing and tracing letters home that provide the rocky road on which Janis traveled. The extreme highs and lows. George-Warren relates the anguish with which she desperately clung to threads of approval and drowned disappointment.

It was after the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, that she could become a national star. During the short period of her major celebrity, Janis managed to turn out myriad hits and set iconic records. Among her best known, “Cry Baby,” “Summertime (a personal favorite),” “Ball and Chain,” “Piece of My Heart,” and “Me and Bobby McGee.”

She was indeed rude, crude, and (for the most part) socially unacceptable, but man could she set an audience on fire with that voice, jumping to their feet and stomping to the music with as much wild abandon as the person on stage. No silver linings here–we all know the story and it doesn’t end well. Janis herself philosophized her life in bits noted at chapter beginnings, many of which I found profound:

“Don’t compromise yourself. It’s all You’ve got.”
“I would never be young again. I’d have to cry all over.”
“You shouldn’t have to be young until you’re old enough to cope with it.”
“What if they find out I’m only Janis?”
“Onstage I make love to twenty-five thousand people, then I go home alone.”

Janis’s last album, “Pearl” was released three months after her passing in January 1971.

If you’ve ever heard that plaintive wail and wondered about the woman behind the voice, you must read this biography. No gloss-over here, just a well laid out chronology of the tragic path another of our singing icons took and the legacy left for aging hippies and the younger generations hooked by those bluesy ballads.

I received this digital download from the publisher (thank you!) and NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to anyone who enjoys well-researched celebrity biographies and well-written histories–get to know Janis–the person and the singer. That was, at times, two different people.

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Book Details:

Genre: Biographies of Composers & Musicians, Biographies of Actors & Entertainers, R&B Artist Biographies
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

  • ISBN-10:1476793107
  • ISBN-13:978-1476793108
  • ASIN: B07P5GD3SZ

Print Length: 337 pages
Publication Date: To be released October 22, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Janis

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Holly George-Warren - authorThe Author: Holly George-Warren is an award-winning writer, editor, producer, and music consultant. She has contributed to more than two dozen books about rock and roll, including The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock, and The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll. She’s also written for the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Journal of Country Music, and Rolling Stone. Ms. George-Warren lives in upstate New York with her family.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Haunted House Ghost by James J Cudney #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am happy today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Haunted House Ghost by James J Cudney on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Haunted House Ghost

Book Details

Haunted House Ghost: Death At The Fall Festival
(Braxton Campus Mysteries)

Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Gumshoe Books – A Next Chapter Imprint (October 1, 2019)
Digital Edition, 275 pages
ASIN: B07WGKGZ9J

Book Blurb

It’s Halloween, and excitement is brewing in Braxton to carve jack-o’-lanterns, go on haunted hayrides, and race through the spooky corn maze at the Fall Festival.

Despite the former occupant’s warnings, Kellan renovates and moves into a mysterious old house. When a ruthless ghost promises retribution, our fearless professor turns to the eccentric town historian and an eerie psychic to communicate with the apparition. Meanwhile, construction workers discover a fifty-year-old skeleton after breaking ground on the new Memorial Library wing.

While Kellan and April dance around the chemistry sparking between them, a suspicious accident occurs at the Fall Festival. Soon, Kellan discovers the true history and dastardly connections of the Grey family. But can he capture the elusive killer – and placate the revenge-seeking ghost.

My Review

Haunted House Ghost by James J CudneyHaunted House Ghost is the fifth in the Braxton Campus Mysteries and my second with this author. Although a series, bringing back protagonist Kellan Ayrwick and his main support characters, each in the series can easily work as a standalone as each storyline is unique.

Kellan has earned the reputation as “The Unlikely Death Locator” as he seemingly has the unhappy timing for the discovery of a murder victim. April and Connor figure prominently again as the local detectives, with April becoming a romantic interest. Kellan has a large family unit, most notably Saraphina Danby, better known as Nana D, as well as daughter Emma. Kellan enjoyed a recent stint as a Hollywood director and now back home functions as a college professor.

This entry to the series has Kellan finishing renovation of his purchase of an old Victorian, the Grey House, which has been standing empty for the better part of fifty years. Any new occupant left quickly due to the possible paranormal activity in the house now said to be haunted and it isn’t long before Kellan begins to experience disturbing and unexplained occurrences as well.

Also occurring at the same time, the implosion of the old wing at the library in the process of being replaced by new and modern accommodations. It is there that Kellan discovers a human skeleton.

Now, as you might expect from this author, things begin to get complicated. The town is in the process of celebrating Halloween with all manner of planned activities and excitement, lending the perfect autumnal feel to the narrative while multi-layers begin to complicate an already complex and well-plotted storyline.

Twists, red herrings, characters in and out of suspicion as Kellan attempts to herd his youngsters, plan his lessons and provide his lectures, and ferret out leads of persons to interrogate (that is, interview) in his quest to find the answers to multiple questions. You can guess, but you probably won’t be right. This is a more serious mystery than a cozy. I’m on the fence with April being a romantic interest and this particular novel ended in a huge (and I mean HUGE), cliffhanger. Oh man, another cliffhanger… (But I happen to know Book 6 is in the works.)

I was given this digital download by the author and publisher for this blog review stop and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. You’ll appreciate the intelligent and complex storyline.

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one (1) print copy of the Haunted House Ghost by James J Cudney (US only) in this Rafflecopter giveaway.
 

About the Author

James J Cudney - authorJames is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com

What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 900 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, there is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have segments where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

List of Books

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)

Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)

Websites & Blog

Websitehttps://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Next Chapter: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney?rq=cudney

Social Media Links

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Purchase Links – Amazon 

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!

Tour Participants:

October 1 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

October 1 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 2 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

October 2 – The Book’s the Thing – SPOTLIGHT

October 2 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW

October 3 – Reading Authors – SPOTLIGHT

October 4 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT – Sapphyria’s Books   

October 4 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER GUEST POST

October 5 – Diary of a Book Fiend – REVIEW

October 6 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

October 7 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

October 8 – I’m Into Books – SPOTLIGHT

October 8 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT*

October 9 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW

October 10 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

October 10 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

October 11 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

October 11 – Ebook addicts – REVIEW

October 12 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 12 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

October 13 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 14 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST Great Escapes Book Tours

Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this cozy mystery!

©2019 V Williams

V Williams

Rosepoint #BookReviews – September Recap Wrap-Up – #rosepointpub

Oh groan, summer is gone and while I know many of you expressed the thought that this is your favorite time of year, I’m sad to see summer and warm temps giving way to cool mornings and unpredictable weather patterns. (Okay, more unpredictable than usual.)

Rosepoint Reviews - September Recap

We had enough T-storms and rain to flood my fairy slash swamp garden and everything is still pretty soggy albeit back to 80+ degree temps. That won’t last long.

Swamp garden boat

Decanted Truths by Melanie FordeSeems I’m still struggling to keep up and most of the time lag behind getting reviews, posts, and social media out. I was shocked yesterday to discover that Melanie Forde who wrote Decanted Truths republished her cover with a quote from my review posted May 24. What a thrill and honor and I sincerely hope she does well as it was one I heartily recommended and enjoyed so much. If you missed the review, you can read it here.

I went hunting for blog hosts I could work with and signed up with several. Having noted those genres I will not read or review, was then rather surprised to find notices for those anyway. I’ve had to cut severely the number of author requests–most don’t check my submission page and likewise send requests for books not on my accepted lists.

Along with book blasts and a review by my intrepid associate, the CE, I reviewed ten in September. Nor do I expect that to increase much in October as our old Navy buddies will be stopping to visit from Texas doing a general friends and family tour. I’ve been getting the house ready and doing some spring cleaning (I told you I was slow and yes, I warned them about the weather in Indiana in October.) Really though, some great September books as noted below.

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

29 Seconds by T M Logan

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Bryon

The House of Five Fortunes by Amanda Hughes (5 Stars)

Dachshund Through the Snow by David Rosenfelt (5 star audiobook–and a new favorite)

Good Morning, Bellingham by Marina Raydun

Beyond a Reasonable Stout by Ellie Alexander (5 Stars)

The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia Meade

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox Bryan (Book 1-new series)

Trials and Tribulations by Jean Grainger ) 5 Stars)

Noting several 5 star books there, I know what you’re thinking–the ole girl’s gettin’ easy. Nope! Just that several of my favorites came up and they never let me down. I still have another audiobook to review from David Rosenfelt–the Andy Carpenter series narrated by Grover Gardner is just outstanding.

Because I’ve been recommending some of my reads to the CE, he is not reading as many BookBub books and his count is down, so my Goodreads Challenge has some significant catching up to do. I have some super books coming up in October, including book tours and blitzes. Really looking forward to the Tracking Game by Margaret Mizushima. Love her Timber Creek K-9 series!

And, some of you may have noticed I was nearing the 2,000 mark of blog followers. Before I could acknowledge 1,999, however, I awoke to the following total of 2,052, give or take. I’m waiting now to see how much is the “take.” In the meantime, however, I’ll celebrate 2,000+ followers and gratefully thank each of you for the new follows and those who continue to look in on my post and review efforts. If you have book suggestions or ideas for me, I’d love to hear them!

2000+ Followers!

Thank you!

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Trials and Tribulations – The Robinswood Story Book 3 by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

This is me–a blubbering mess–and you know I don’t easily admit to tears from reading a book.

Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Book Blurb:

Trials and Tribulations by Jean GraingerRobinswood Estate, County Waterford, 1950

Three sisters, the three men that love them, and a house that could consume them all.

Assuming their roles as the new Lord and Lady Kenefick and returning to Robinswood with the plan to drag it back from the brink of dereliction, is taking its toll on Kate and Sam. With a young family to raise, a very limited budget and only Kate’s parents to help, the task seems insurmountable.

Kate’s eldest sister Eve and her husband Bartley have found happiness in each other after some dark years, but when a face from the past appears, it seems that everything they have worked so hard to create is threatened.

Aisling, the middle sister, is being evasive and the family suspect something is very wrong. On the face of it, she has it all, a lovely husband, a comfortable house and a supportive family, but she is in deep trouble, and nobody can even guess at the real reason why. 

Meanwhile Lady Lillian, Sam’s sister, is useless and arrogant, refusing to accept that things have changed and that her title is not going to get her what she wants, least of all from her husband Beau.

In the midst of it all Dermot and Isabella Murphy try their best to maintain a life and a home for their family, but the trials and tribulations of life at Robinswood might just tear them all apart. .

My Review:

Ms. Grainger has exceeded herself as the supreme storyteller of the Irish, whether or not she’s ever kissed the Blarney Stone, which btw, as I understand it, is not all that far from Cork, from whence she hails. This book grabs you from the beginning and takes you through highs and lows ending in a thrilling conclusion containing not one but two twists that take your breath away.

Trials and Tribulations by Jean GraingerIt’s easy to love these characters, all hard-working, driven, and pulling together to make a success of Robinswood. What’s not to love? The writing style is easy, descriptive, and sensitive, wrenching from even the hardened reviewer emotive sighs. The continuation of the story of the Kenefick and Murphy families (and their reversal of roles) drives this well-plotted domestic drama.

There is a lot going on in this one and I wish I could skim without spoilers, but this is one you have to read for yourself to appreciate. Kate (the wife of Sam), while the youngest of the three (Murphy) sisters, seem to have taken on the job of coordinating the management and has fallen severely short of manpower with the illness of her mother that also affects her dad. She is at her wits end, needs help, and sending up distress signals hasn’t seemed to work. Lady Lillian (and the former lady of the manor), is still more liability than asset. “Lillian was as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike…”

Outhouse There are guests to attend, meals to prepare, fields, animals, and outhouses to convert to much-needed labor housing. (In America we use that term for a structure meant to describe a relief station with no plumbing.) Eve’s husband Bartley, who is a seventh son of a seventh son and a former traveller (or tinker) is working with Beau (Lillian’s husband), and Mark (Aisley’s husband). There is a complex layer of little side dramas, pregnancies, and conflicts. One of the conflicts becomes deadly and leads to another whole drama affecting the entire tribe.

Character and locale driven, this storyline is immersive, including engaging characters you come to care about, whether empathetic or annoying. You might well wish to begin with the first in this series to fully understand where this book begins. The narrative can function fine as a standalone with simple references to a previous relationship. Grainger invokes some fine Irish humor and the dialogue is natural. The evolution of Lillian was one I didn’t expect, and I LOVED the conclusion. While I had a suspicion of the final twist, it was the journey to that moment that had you holding your breath in disbelief. Okay, Ms. Grainger, you put one over on us and I know you are very busy snickering about it. I loved the new character Hannah, my heart ached for Bartley, and soared with Beau.

I was given this digital download as an advance to those special few in hopes of a review and these are my own opinions. This is the best one yet; could also have been titled tragedy and triumph. Highly recommended. You can’t go wrong here, folks. Trust me.

Book Details:

Genre: 20th Century Historical Romance, Historical Fiction, Historical Irish Fiction

  • ASIN: B07XGFMB15

Print Length: 331 pages
Publication Date: To be released October 1, 2019
Source: Author Request
Title Link: Trials and Tribulations

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Jean Grainger - authorThe Author: JEAN GRAINGER, USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

SELECTED BY BOOKBUB READERS IN TOP 19 OF HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS.

WINNER OF THE 2016 AUTHOR’S CIRCLE HISTORICAL NOVEL OF EXCELLENCE

Hello and thanks for taking time out to check out my page. If you’re wondering what you’re getting with my books then think of the late great Maeve Binchy but sometimes with a historical twist. I was born in Cork, Ireland in 1971 and I come from a large family of storytellers, so much so that we had to have ‘The Talking Spoon’, only the person holding the spoon could talk!

I have worked as a history lecturer at University, a teacher of English, History and Drama in secondary school, a playwright, and a tour guide of my beloved Ireland. I am married to the lovely Diarmuid and we have four children. We live in a 150 year old stone cottage in Mid-Cork with my family and the world’s smallest dog, a chi-chon called Scrappy-Do.

My experiences leading groups, mainly from the United States, led me to write my first novel, ‘The Tour’. My observances of the often funny, sometimes sad but always interesting events on tours fascinated me. People really did confide the most extraordinary things, the safety of strangers I suppose…The fourth Conor O’Shea book is called The Homecoming of Bubbles O’Leary and features a group of friends taking their friend Bubbles home to Ireland from New York, on last time.

My first World War 2 novel, ‘So Much Owed’ is a family saga based in Ireland following the Buckley family of Dunderrig House. The story opens in the trenches of WW1 at the end of the war and moves to tranquil West Cork. As the next generation of the Buckley family find themselves embroiled once again in war, the action moves from Ireland to wartime Belfast, from occupied France to the inner sanctum of German society in neutral Dublin. The history of the period was my academic specialty so I’m delighted to be able to use it in a work of fiction.

I released a second WW2 book, called ‘What Once Was True’ earlier this year and so far people seem to really like it. Its set in a big old house, and based on the lives of the two families that live there, The Keneficks that own it and the Murphys that work for them.

Shadow of a Century, is set in New York in 2015 as well as in Dublin during the events of Easter Week 1916, where Irish men and women fought valiantly to rid our island of British Imperialism. While not my academic specialty, I loved researching this book. My husband, most fortunately for me is an expert on this era and so I didn’t have to go too far for assistance. The story features three very strong women, united through a battered old flag. Its essentially a love story, but with a bit of intrigue thrown in for good measure.

Under Heaven’s Shining Stars, was published in 2016 and is set in my home city of Cork. My next book, What Once Was True, tells the story of a big old house in Co Waterford during WW2. Two families live there, the impoverished Keneficks who own it and the hard-working Murphys who work for them. Life has remained unchanged for centuries but when war comes, it means everything changes and people have to question what once was true. This book was selected by Bookbub readers as in the top 19 Historical Fiction books of 2018. The sequel to this, Return to Robinswood, continues the story. (See my review here.)

My latest book, The Star and the Shamrock is about two little German Jewish children who find themselves on the Kindertransport out of Berlin. They end up in Northern Ireland and it was a real labour of love. The research was harrowing at times, but I hope I’ve done justice to the stories of so many children who escaped the Nazi terror, often never again to see their parents. This is a book of hope in dark times, of the enduring power of love and the incredible resilience of the human spirit.

Many of the people who have reviewed my books have said that you get to know the characters and really become attached to them, that’s wonderful for me to hear because that’s how I feel about them too. I grew up on Maeve Binchy and Deirdre Purcell and I aspired to being like them. If you buy one of my books I’m very grateful and I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, or even if you don’t, please take the time to post a review. Writing is a source of constant contentment to me and I am so fortunate to have the time and the inclination to do it, but to read a review written by a reader really does make my day.

***Truncated in the interest of space–please see her entire bio here.

Cartoon outhouse attribution: clipartmag.com (Thank you)

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Christmas Cow Bells (A Buttermilk Creek Mystery) by Mollie Cox Bryan – a #BookReview #cozy

Yahoo! I’m starting this series and new author (to me) with Book 1!

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox BryanBook Blurb:

The first novel in Mollie Cox Bryan’s brand new mystery series, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, will keep you guessing until the cows come home . . .
Christmas is a time for new beginnings, so after her big breakup, Brynn MacAlister takes the gouda with the bad. With her three Red Devon cows, she settles in bucolic Shenandoah Springs, eager for a new life as an organic micro-dairy farmer and cheese-maker. Then her dear cow Petunia’s bellows set the whole town on edge. But it isn’t until Brynn’s neighbor, Nancy, dies in a mysterious fire that her feelings about small town life begin to curdle . . .

It seems some folks were not happy with Nancy’s plan to renovate the Old Glebe Church. But is a fear of change a motivation for murder? As a newcomer, Brynn can’t ignore the strange events happening just on the other side of her frosty pasture—and soon on her very own farm. Suddenly Christmas doesn’t feel so festive as everyone demands she muzzle sweet Petunia, and Brynn is wondering if someone wants to silence her—for good . .

My Review:

Protagonist Brynn MacAlister has ended up in bucolic Shenandoah Springs on a small micro-dairy farm with emphasis on artisanal cheeses without the fiancé planned with the move. (He turned out to be a two-timing jerk.) Her grandmother had passed away giving her the wherewithal to purchase the property complete with main house (formerly a B&B), guest house, and barn. She has brought with her three Red Devon dairy cows, Petunia, Marigold, and Buttercup. Unfortunately, Petunia gave birth to a stillborn calf and is in severe mourning.

Brynn is getting to know the people of the tiny town in Virginia and as always, some are more friendly than others. She wants to network as she’ll be trying to sell her cheese locally, but it is with her close neighbor, Nancy, with whom she finds the most common interests. Nancy is also a recent transplant and wants to rehab the other side of the field, formerly a church. Unfortunately, there is a fire and Nancy succumbs to smoke inhalation and the injuries suffered. It is part of Nancy’s family that includes two boys who will stay in Brynn’s guest home, helping with chores as they are on Christmas break.

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox BryanThe two outstanding support characters, Schuyler and Willow, are great and I’d love to see their characters grow within the series. And Wes sounds like he’ll be a great asset, young, smart, enthusiastic, and media capable. The descriptions of the area make it sound so beautiful, although I can imagine the bone-chilling cold during the Christmas season and the thought of going out to milk Petunia, get them fed, muck the barn, and provide some kind of heating system doesn’t get me enthused enough to move.

Also greatly appreciated getting to know more about the cheese-making process and the artisan varieties–who doesn’t love cheese? As always, with any of these crafts, there are definitions of the industry language with cleanliness standards high on the list. I can remember being invited to the home of a couple also in the Jazz Mass Choir during rehearsals for a European choir tour wherein her dessert was a plate of special cheeses, including Brie, crackers, and grapes, and I’ve never been able to find a Brie that could equal. (Believe me, I’ve looked.)

So with only the whispered words from Nancy prior to her death to go on, Brynn begins to investigate. But that seems to start a round of warnings and things get creepy. She does attain a dog, Freckles, although Freckles seems to be just a tad hit and miss on the watchdog thing.

The well-plotted and atmospheric storyline moves at a fairly decent pace, although there is more than sufficient repeats of main points that will not let you forget exactly why she was there trying to do this alone (perhaps it was a mistake), who was trying to get her to move, and why. Brynn waffles, although under the circumstances, probably anyone would. Still, it sounded like the idyllic setting. There are red herrings, yes, but more than ample hints of the who, whether or not we understood the why until the conclusion.

I love it when I get to start a promising new series with Book 1 and this one appears to be off and running with a strong debut. I’m looking forward to more fleshing in Brynn, but love the support characters, human as well as animal. 

I was granted this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for cozy mystery fans, particularly of the culinary sort. I suspect a few of the ingredients will grace your shopping list (as it will mine).

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Cozy Animal Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Kensington

  • ISBN-10:1496721322
  • ISBN-13:978-1496721327
  • ASIN: B07MH9XYHY

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Christmas Cow Bells
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Mollie Cox Bryan - authorThe Author: Mollie Cox Bryan writes cozy mysteries with edge and romances with slow, sweet burn. The first book in her new mystery series, “Cora Crafts Mysteries.” is DEATH AMONG THE DOILIES, which was selected as “Fresh Fiction Not to Miss” and is a 2017 Finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award. The second book, NO CHARM INTENDED, was named a Summer 2017 Top 10 Beach Read by Woman’s World. She also wrote the Agatha-award nominated Cumberland Creek Mysteries. Several of the books in that series were short-listed for the Virginia Library People’s Choice Award. She’s also penned a historical fiction: MEMORY OF LIGHT: AN AFTERMATH OF GETTYSBURG and historical romance: TEMPTING WILL MCGLASHEN. She makes her home at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley, Va.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Beyond a Reasonable Stout: A Sloan Krause Mystery Book 3 by Ellie Alexander

This may yet get me to try a craft beer. Although I’d be happier checking out this beautiful little Washington state village.

Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Beyond a Reasonable Stout by Ellie AlexanderBook Blurb:

Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause delves into the murderous political world in another delightful mystery from popular cozy writer Ellie Alexander.

It’s the dead season in Leavenworth, Washington. The throngs of Oktoberfest crowds have headed home, and the charming Bavarian streets are quiet and calm—momentarily. Villagers use the reprieve to drink in the crisp fall mountain air and prepare for the upcoming winter light festival. Soon the German-inspired shops and restaurants will be aglow with thousands of twinkling lights. Visitors will return to the northern Cascades to drink warm mulled cider and peruse the holiday markets. Brewer, Sloan Krause and her partner in crime Garrett Strong are using the slowdown to stock up on a new line of their signature craft beers at Nitro. They’re experimenting with a hoppy holiday pine and a chocolate hazelnut stout. The small brewery is alive with delicious scents and bubbling batches of brew.

Sloan is in her element. She loves the creativity and lowkey atmosphere at Nitro. Only that is soon threatened by the incumbent city councilmember Kristopher Cooper. Kristopher is running for re-election on a platform of making Leavenworth dry. Everyone in beertopia is fuming. Leavenworth’s economy relies on keeping the kegs flowing. Kristopher wants to banish beer, a policy that might just bankrupt the entire village. However, Kristopher turns up dead days before election night. Sloan quickly realizes that his murder isn’t the work of a stranger. Friends, family, and every other business owner had a motive to kill him, including none other than April Ablin, Leavenworth’s self-described ambassador of all things German. Sloan finds herself defending April and trying to sleuth out a killer amongst a group of familiar faces.

My Review:

No I don’t drink beer and at my age can barely tolerate a small glass of white wine before I’m running for an antacid, but for some reason, this little series set a spark that has caught my attention.

Beyond a Reasonable Stout by Ellie AlexanderProtagonist Sloan Krause has the nose and the taste buds for the business. She’s smart, inventive, and original. Having grown up the hard way through a series of foster homes, she thought she’d found a family when she married Mac and became part of his family’s Der Keller Brewery in the quaint mountainous Bavarian styled village of  Leavenworth. They had a son, Alex, but Mac soon acquired a wandering eye.

All was not lost when she discovered a start-up brewery run by Garrett at close by at Nitro. He is an ex-Seattle chemist. He is easy and laid back, detailed oriented and intelligent. They hired Kat, a young woman who needed a job and a roof over her head and acquired both with Nitro.

Book three has the village facing a city council election whose incumbent has decided Leavenworth should be alcohol-free–which, of course, would kill most of the town’s livelihoods. Following a nasty confrontation following a rally for his opponent, he is found murdered and it’s the town’s self-proclaimed “ambassador” April, who is #1 person of interest.

Running parallel in an undercurrent left from Book 2, Sloan again confronts her past and seeks answers regarding her parents and the resulting abandonment.

Once again, the compelling and well-developed support characters from the previous novel are back and are readily familiar, although you could easily read this as a standalone. There is a lot of industry-standard vocabulary, as well as Sloan’s tasty ideas for the upcoming season. Details of brewing are shared in an off-hand way that doesn’t interrupt the story, merely adds credence and understanding to the craft art.

As Oktoberfest is history, the village has a slight lull prior to Thanksgiving, the tree lighting ceremonies, the opening of ski season and winter activities, so they have the opportunity to work on projects and taste test. The weather is turning cold and the beauty of their village, their little valley, and the mountains take on a whole new perspective. The author imparts her love of the Pacific Northwest in her descriptive prose and once again creates a travel lust. I loved the descriptions of the various beers and exactly how they are classified, reminding me a little of the tour we took in Japan of the Kirin (Ichiban) Brewery in Yokohama. (Yes, I tasted it…how can you not?)

There continues to be some growth in the relationship between her and Garrett, although Mac is trying to come back and I’m discerning just a slight bit of emotional confusion. The antagonist was no real surprise, although there were a few twists and red herrings to throw you off. And I appreciated the way April returned the favor–and excited to see that idea going forward. But then, what?? A cliffhanger?!! Gees, I hate cliffhangers. I read Book 2, The Pint of No Return last year and loved it. (See that review here.) Now I have to wait another year??

“Beer Cures What Ales You.”

“Every loaf of bread is a tragic story of grains that could have become beer but didn’t.”

I received this uncorrected digital galley from the publisher and NetGalley and loved the opportunity to read and review. I am really looking forward to following this series and will be watching for Book 4! Recommended for any who enjoy a fun, fast-paced cozy mystery or any well-crafted novel with wonderful fully-developed characters in a unique and gorgeous setting.

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250205751
  • ISBN-13:978-1250205759
  • ASIN: B07P7BXXHZ

Print Length: 284 pages
Publication Date: To be released October 1, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Beyond a Reasonable Stout

Kate Dyer-Seeley - authorThe Author: Ellie Alexander, author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series and the Sloan Krause Mysteries (St. Martin’s Press), is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

Find out more about Ellie and her books by visiting her here:
web: http://https://www.elliealexander.co/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellie_alexander
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwd80ruKbz98VZQGT2I23-Q/featured
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliealexanderauthor
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/BakeshopMystery

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Dachshund Through The Snow: An Andy Carpenter Mystery by David Rosenfelt – a #BookReview #Mystery #rosepointpub

NOooo, this says Book 20 of 20. Say it isn’t so! I’ve only caught one previous (Bark of Night, Book 19) and I’m feeling abused. I may have to resort to trying the library–but I will find some more. In the meantime, you might want to grab this one while you can. These are too much fun to miss.

Five Stars 5-stars

Dachshund Through the Snow by David RosenfeltBook Blurb:

This Christmas, lawyer Andy Carpenter and his golden retriever, Tara, can’t say no to helping young Danny and his dachshund, Murphy.

Lawyer Andy Carpenter and his wife, Laurie, have started a new Christmas tradition. Their local pet store has a Christmas tree, where instead of ornaments there are wishes from those in need. One poignant wish leads Andy to a child named Danny, whose selfless plea strikes a chord. Danny asked Santa for a coat for his mother, a sweater for his dachshund, Murphy, and for the safe return of his missing father.

It turns out Danny’s father doesn’t want to be found, he’s on the run after just being arrested for a murder that took place fourteen years ago – a murder that Danny’s mother swears he didn’t commit.

With his trademark humor and larger-than-life characters – including a police officer and his K-9 partner, Simon – Rosenfelt never fails to deliver as Andy and his eccentric crew dash to reunite a family in time for Christmas. 

Dachshund Through the Snow by David RosenfeltMy Review:

If you love dogs (and even if you don’t but love a good mystery), you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter mystery series. I discovered this author plying the pages of the audiobooks in my local technically advanced library. They have all those things–audiobooks, movies, books! (See my review for Bark of Night here.) Well, I loved that audiobook so much I went searching for the author on NetGalley and found this one. I was thrilled when they accepted my request. I knew it’d be good. Some, you just request, or order, just because you know. Right?

Well, I was. Right, that is. Loved this novel! I love a good book with a sense of humor. No, it’s not a cozy and doesn’t get that idea. These are serious mystery books, well-structured plots, fully engaging from page one. Interviews, investigation, legal maneuvering, filing of all manner of papers, as well as courtroom capers. It’s that writer’s style, you know. He has a way with his snarky lawyerly attitude that tells you maybe being an attorney was not what he really wanted to do. And it wasn’t. Luckily for him (we should all be so lucky), he inherited beaucoup bucks. Now he can do want he wants and he loves dogs. In fact, he created an animal rescue and would love nothing more than to spend his time there, because lawyering, as you might know from the fees they routinely collect, takes mountains of time. He’d rather not. He’s early retired. Or supposed to be.

This narrative begins simply enough with a Christmas request and devolves into a full-fledged, multi-level whodunit. A young boy asked that his dad be brought home from jail and a murder he didn’t commit fourteen years ago. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They are all innocent. And this one has his DNA thanks to the strangled eighteen-year old’s fingernails. But as Andy gets deeper into the case, he begins to believe he is–innocent–that is. Now: How to prove it.

Parallel with the main plot premise is a retiring cop who’d love to have his beautiful K-9 service dog retire with him. But Simon is nine. They don’t retire service dogs until they are ten. Here’s the bad news (okay, more bad news): Simon is beginning to exhibit signs of arthritis. Remember, German Shepherds tend to have hip problems. So Andy sues for species discrimination.

Dialogue between Andy and his wife, (former) policewoman Laurie is intelligent and realistic. He has a cadre of unusual support staff, including Marcus (the silent muscle), a computer technie-hacker, and an office manager who also rather not work and usually doesn’t. Despite his irreverent attitude, he can be quite self-deprecating when called upon to do any hero stuff. But don’t ever sell him short. He’s known for his brain, not brawn, and his courtroom triumphs would bear that out.

Talk about hitting all the right buttons. Intelligent mystery, dialogue, twists, red-herrings, and dogs. How deep does this fourteen-year-old murder mystery go? How can you get past DNA evidence after all this time? I love the complications and finally decided I knew the ultimate culprit (it goes up the chain). But the twist at the end totally throws a monkey-wrench into that theory.

I received this book from the publisher and NetGalley and totally appreciate the opportunity to read and review. (THANK YOU Minotaur!) And this book and this series is highly recommended. I’ll continue to follow this author, even if he’s leaving Andy behind.

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Book Details:

Genre: Holiday Fiction, Animal Fiction, Traditional Detective Series
Publisher: St Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250237688
  • ISBN-13:978-1250237682
  • ASIN: B07P9LQ99N

 Print Length: 313 pages
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Dachshund Through the Snow
David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: David Rosenfelt, a native of Paterson, New Jersey, is a graduate of NYU. He was the former marketing president for Tri-Star Pictures before becoming a writer of novels and screenplays. “Open And Shut” was his first novel; “First Degree,” his second novel, was named a best book of 2003 by Publishers Weekly. He currently lives in Southern California with his wife and 35 dogs.

©2019 V Williams

V Williams

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron – a #BookReview #cozy

Love that sound, love that food, and the Mardi Gras atmosphere.

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron

Fatal Cajun Festival: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron

Book Blurb:

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Ellen Byron cranks it up to eleven in the fifth fast and funny Cajun Country mystery.

Louisiana B&B owner Maggie Crozat kicks up her heels at a country music festival–but she’ll have one foot in the grave if she can’t bring the killer of a diva’s hanger-on to heel.

Grab your tickets for Cajun Country Live!, the pickers’ and crooners’ answer to the legendary New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Maggie Crozat, proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B, plans to be in the cheering section when her friend Gaynell Bourgeois takes the stage with her band, Gaynell and the Gator Girls.

The festival’s headliner, native daughter Tammy Barker, rocketed to stardom on a TV singing competition. She has the voice of an angel…and the personality of a devilish diva. But Maggie learns that this tiny terror carries a grudge against Gaynell. She’s already sabotaged the Gator Girls’ JazzFest audition. When a member of Tammy’s entourage is murdered at the festival, Tammy makes sure Gaynell is number one on the suspect list.

Gaynell has plenty of company on that list–including every one of Tammy’s musicians. Posing as a groupie, Maggie infiltrates Tammy’s band and will have to hit all the right notes to clear her friend’s name.

My Review:

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen ByronA cozy mystery with recipes, my first with the author and the series, and you know what? I really enjoyed it! I know what you’re thinking–Rosepoint Pub has had one too many and who is covering for her? Au Contraire, lovely readers, and I appreciate your concern!

First, you are wondering, “yeah, but it’s number five of the series” (with an adorable cover). Take heart. Although I’m sure you’d enjoy reading 1-4, this one functioned fine for me as a standalone for several reasons: (1) Locale driven but enough info about the main and support characters without doing a complete backstory, and (2) multi-layered and complex storyline that kept your attention. (Oh, and I might mention a complete listing of characters appears at the beginning and if I didn’t get lost, you shouldn’t.)

(Magnolia) Maggie Crozat is proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B in Pelican, Louisana. Her fiancé is Bo, Detective Bo Durand. And then there is Gaynell Bourgeois, Maggie’s best friend and soon to be person of interest. Lest I am to blame for confusing you, I’ll only further mention Tammy Barker, the local girl country star gone big time come back to gloat.

It is Maggie’s Grand-mère (Charlotte Crozat) who suggests the little town have a Cajun Country Live! Festival to catch music fans on their way to the larger fest in New Orleans. In the meantime, widow Grand-mère is off on a “death cleaning” and discovers something in the process she can’t ignore. Maggie must gear up her booth with Pelican Pralines as well as offer her paintings. (She also holds a new position as Doucet’s art collection specialist.)

Being a headliner, Tammy arrives amid huge pomp with her entourage, totally over-shadowing another local (lesser successful but talented) musician, Gaynell. Well, you know how musicians are. There is bound to be a clash and Gaynell and her Gator Girls land in the middle. Tammy’s manager is soon discovered in some bushes. Dead. Before Tammy’s group moves on to the Jazz Festival, Maggie will have to move fast to clear Gaynell’s name.

Boy, I do love the music, and add Cajun or Zydeco to the mix is probably the only place left where an accordion sounds GOOOOD with a washboard! Grab some crawdads, shrimp, and Cajun spice and you have a festival! This book just exudes that enthusiastic feel-good time. And then there is the mystery–mercy that gets complicated–but then you’re immersed in the whole atmosphere of the Louisiana Cajun Country. (Also, there is the Reader’s Digest explanation of Cajun vs Creole.) This is fascinating stuff, people!

Zydeco musicians at the Cajun Zydeco Festival
Photo Attribute: Cajun Zydeco Festival photo by Cheryl Gerber

The dialogue is peppered with a mix of French and Cajun patois. Maggie is interesting, but it is the history and tidbits of the area that I most appreciated and invested. It is well-paced and I must admit I didn’t guess either the perp or the reason, which provides a fascinating twist, even entirely plausible. There are bits of humor along the way; one of my favorites describing a cluster of teens.

“A giggle,” Maggie said. “I think you’d call it a giggle of girls.” (Yup!)

The conclusion came on the heels of another of Maggie’s open mouth, insert foot moments. She did annoy me a couple times. Also, I stumbled over Gaynell’s name more than once, wishing it were something else; Jane even, but Gaynell(?). Still, her character was fully engaging. I loved the recipes (and you remember I don’t usually look at them). They seemed geared to feed the entire southern militia, but that won’t stop me from trying a couple and the ingredients are already on my shopping list!

I received this digital ebook from the publisher and NetGalley and was thoroughly entertained, grateful to have the opportunity to read and review. I’m totally onboard for Book 6! Recommended to those mystery fans who don’t always get a culinary cozy and to anyone looking for an entertaining read. (Eat first.)

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Cozy Craft and Hobby Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ISBN: 1643851292

  • ASIN: B07NKW8WMY

 Print Length: 298 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! September 10, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Fatal Cajun Festival 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Ellen Byron - authorThe Author: Author of MARDI GRAS MURDER, the 2018 AGATHA AWARD winner for Best Contemporary Novel.

Ellen Byron writes the USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. MARDI GRAS MURDER won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and was nominated for a Best Humorous Mystery Lefty Award by Left Coast Crime. A CAJUN CHRISTMAS KILLING and BODY ON THE BAYOU, both won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and were nominated for Agatha Awards in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. PLANTATION SHUDDERS, the first book in the series, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Cajun Country Mysteries offer “everything a cozy reader could want,” according to Publishers Weekly, while Library Journal says, “Diane Mott Davidson and Lou Jane Temple fans will line up for this series.” HERE COMES THE BODY, the first book in her Catering Hall Mysteries will launch in March 2020 under the name Maria DiRico.

Ellen’s TV credits include Wings and Just Shoot Me; she’s written over 200 magazine articles; her published plays include the award-winning Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. She is a native New Yorker who lives in Los Angeles and attributes her fascination with Louisiana to her college years at New Orleans’ Tulane University. She also worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. Have an early copy of Martha’s first book, ENTERTAINING? Ellen’s standing right next to her in the group shot.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

29 Seconds by T M Logan – a #BookReview

This may be old news and controversial but can still grab the headlines.

29 Seconds by T M LoganBook Blurb:

“Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear.”

Sarah is a young professor struggling to prove herself in a workplace controlled by the charming and manipulative Alan Hawthorne. A renowned scholar and television host, Hawthorne rakes in million-dollar grants for the university where Sarah works—so his inappropriate treatment of female colleagues behind closed doors has gone unchallenged for years. And Sarah is his newest target.

When Hawthorne’s advances become threatening, Sarah is left with nowhere to turn. Until the night she witnesses an attempted kidnapping of a young child on her drive home, and impulsively jumps in to intervene. The child’s father turns out to be a successful businessman with dangerous connections—and her act of bravery has put this powerful man in her debt. He gives Sarah a burner phone and an unbelievable offer. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that can make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No traces. All it takes is a 29-second phone call.

Because everyone has a name to give. Don’t they?

My Review:

29 Seconds by T M LoganSometimes I feel like a salmon swimming upstream, battling against the fish ladder trying to get where the run will all be happily waiting for me. I see this one had good reviews. I was supposed to like it but I was a little more meh than ack! Or groan than eek? We are talking about Sarah, a young professor working hard to become permanent. Unfortunately, her boss is Alan Hawthorne (or Lovelock–I must have missed the explanation for the interchangeable name) and he’s made it plain there is only one way for her to achieve that goal. And the thing is, he’s left a trail of his conquests, not like this is new, only his latest.

He’s brilliant, manipulative, charming, successful, and powerful. He brings in the major bucks to the university and they like that. Well, guess that’s nothing new. So far, she’ been successful at rebuking his advances but he’s getting more worse, his last leaving her furious and impotent. She is fuming when a chance presents itself to DO something–anything (see synopsis), and she saves a young girl from an apparent kidnapping. The girl’s father is even more powerful–and very grateful.

The reader is positive she’d take the opportunity but suddenly she’s impotent again.

“You give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear. For you.”

“I don’t have a name to give you. There isn’t anyone.”

“Nonsense. Everyone has someone they would like to punish. To have just a little bit more just in the world.”

“Maybe I’m the exception.”

Uh huh, sure. But she has 72 hours and within that time things go from bad to worse with good old Dr. Hawthorne. Now she’s really, thoroughly, beyond pissed, and makes the call. Then wakes the next morning all “what have I done?” It was explained–there is no going back. But now it’s killing her. (And I suspect would be normal for most people.) In the meantime, her two young’un’s are still fighting and squabbling, her father is still patiently there for her, and her two close friends are yet to be determined. Hubby wasn’t in the picture as he’d had to go “find himself” with someone else. She’s totally not playing this with a full deck. You’d have to wonder how she’s gotten this far.

Sarah’s running through all the scenarios–what could she do? She isn’t the brightest and comes close to telling. Telling??!! (Gimmee a break! Seriously?) But then the super baddies mess up and Hawthorne is rescued. Oh yeah, now on top of everything else, he can blackmail her into playing because of course, he knows. HE’s not stupid. (Anybody remember what Clint Eastwood said in a mess up like this one? Yeah–it’s a CF.) Sarah is fleshed enough to be annoying, the support characters about the same, less annoying. Hawthorne is just nasty.

She develops a plan to take care of him once and for all and it’s also looking like a groaner. Okay, then there is a twist at the end–a pretty good one–and I’ll assume Sarah didn’t work that one out. Dialogue works well, but the reader can’t be sure who to trust, nor is the plot unique. Neat twist at the end, but in the meantime you have had to choke a lot back, including disbelief.

So I have to ask, did you read this? If so, how did you see it? Did it aggravate you?

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and always appreciate the opportunity to read and review a topical contemporary fiction. You may see this one in a whole nother light and if so, I’d love to hear about it.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Crime Thrillers
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

  • ISBN-10:1250182301
  • ISBN-13:978-1250182302
  • ASIN: B07NTQ8HP7

Print Length: 356 pages
Publication Date: Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: 29 Seconds

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three of Five Stars 3-stars

T M Logan - authorThe Author: Bestselling author TM Logan was a national newspaper journalist before turning to novel-writing full time. His debut thriller LIES was one of Amazon UK’s biggest ebooks of 2017, selling 350,000 copies and gathering more than 1,400 5-star reviews so far. It was published in the USA in September 2018 and has also come out in South Korea, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and the Netherlands.

His next thriller, 29 SECONDS, is a psychological thriller set against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement. What if someone offered you a solution to the biggest problem in your life – would you take it, if you knew you’d never be found out? Even if you knew it was wrong? What if a 29-second phone call could change your life forever?

29 SECONDS is due to be published in the USA by St Martin’s Press on September 10, 2019.

Tim lives in Nottinghamshire, UK, with his wife and two children.

For exclusive writing, new releases and a FREE deleted scene from Tim, sign up to the Readers’ Club: http://www.bit.ly/TMLogan. You can also follow him on Twitter @TMLoganAuthor, find him on Facebook at /TMLoganAuthor or on his website at http://www.tmlogan.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Hot Shot by Fern Michaels – a #BookReview

Hot Shot (The Men of the Sisterhood Book 5) by Fern Michaels

Hot Shot by Fern MichaelsBook Blurb:

Loyalty is a way of life for the Sisterhood and their significant others. When lawyer Lizzie Fox’s husband, Cosmo Cricket, is left critically injured after being shot by an unknown assailant, the men of BOLO Consultants head straight for Las Vegas to comfort Lizzie—and to uncover a dangerous enemy in the City of Sin.

As head of Nevada’s Gaming Commission, Cosmo has powerful enemies. Yet the shooting seems to be related to one of his private projects. Built in the desert outside Las Vegas, Happy Village is a flourishing community for seniors who have lost a spouse. Cosmo’s widowed father found new purpose in running the venture. But the neighborhood that’s now home to Happy Village was once run by rival gangs, a complicated past that has come to haunt the place. Jack, Harry, and the rest of the crew need to remove the threat, risking everything to take on a vicious and mysterious gang leader known only as Hot Shot. And while the men of the Sisterhood fight for justice for their friend, Cosmo is fighting for his life—and the stakes have never been higher . . .

My Review:

Loved the cover, the blurb sounded interesting. Then what? Perhaps you have to have read the first four of the series, or the Women of the Sisterhood first. Either way, I was totally missing something with this book. My first experience with the series and the author; perhaps mea culpa.

Hot Shot by Fern MichaelsThe narrative starts slow, stays slow, and turned into a snoozer for me. A large list of characters, I guess Jack Emery is the protagonist. He’s the one with the large shepherd, Cyrus, and you know I’m a sucker for a book with a dog. But this one? Not so much. I’d read books that anthropomorphize the canine-human relationship, but this one is a bit over the top (even for me). I couldn’t warm up to Jack, Harry, or any of the crew, though really they were not that well-developed in this entry.

Then there is Happy Village, a senior facility now overseen by a rich and powerful half-partner, Cosmo Cricket who is gunned down early in the book and his wife Lizzie Fox, pretty powerful in her own right, sends out the missive for help. Cosmo left in place after he rehabbed the complex a gang to protect the Village from a rival gang that previously ruled the area in a seedy part of Las Vegas. I’m not a fan of Las Vegas, so references to the boiling desert heat hit a nerve reminding me of the two weeks we spent stranded after our vehicle quit. (The repair dealer is as big a rip-off as are the casinos.)

As the plot moves into ever more characters and them into the dark web, things proceed from slow to nasty. Jack and his cronies set up a plan of action to look into what is going on with the shooting of Cosmo, resident disappearances at Happy Village, and the person controlling the gang of despots. The antagonist(s) is no surprise. Difficult to become engaged with characters you can’t identify with, nor have empathy or interest.

The conclusion rolled into a climax that becomes horrific. I actually had to slow down and read that part to really understand they were doing what I thought they were doing. There were edit misses along the way and words together with no space and words separated by a space (i.e., Cy – rus, ada – mant). A reference to the biker gang having nine or ten Har leys (sic) which “translates to nineteen or twenty gang members” was almost funny. (Not unless nine or ten Harley-riding gang members were riding “bitch.” (Or “two-up” And I don’t see that happening.)

I had a few other nit-picky issues, but you get the idea. I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley. Sad to say, it just didn’t work for me.

Book Details:

Genre: Sisters Fiction, Crime Fiction
Publisher: Zebra

  • ISBN-10:1420146025
  • ISBN-13:978-1420146028
  • ASIN: B07L2GKGCL

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: (Reissue edition) August 27, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Hot Shot

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Two-point Five of Five Stars Two point Five of Five Stars

Fern Michaels - authorThe Author: Fern Michaels is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the successful Sisterhood series and the Men of the Sisterhood series and dozens of other novels and novellas. There are over 150 best-selling books with 110 million copies in print. Fern Michaels has built and funded several large day-care centers in her hometown, and is a passionate animal lover who has outfitted police dogs across the country with special bulletproof vests. She shares her home in South Carolina with her four dogs and a resident ghost named Mary Margaret.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Thicker Than Water by Johnny Worthen – a #BookReview

Thicker Than Water: A Tony Flaner Mystery by Johnny Worthen

Thicker Than Water by Johnny WorthenBook Blurb:

Tony Flaner, sarcastic, slacking, sleuth from, THE FINGER TRAP, has given up being a good detective. Now he babysits a pampered dog for a high-strung family and of course that dog is kidnapped right under his nose. He tries to care, really he does, but he can’t. He couldn’t even if he weren’t otherwise distracted by the sudden death of his neglected aunt Vicky hundreds of miles away in scenic Moab, Utah.

To solve her murder, Tony wades into tourist town politics and nagging guilt to unravel hot plots and cold cases. He must learn the secret ways of Nordic Indians, elves and goblins, motorcycle maniacs, tabloid slanderers, yapping dogs, hated rivals, and old loves to find out what’s THICKER THAN WATER.

My Review:

What DO I get myself into? This one is totally off the wall–in a good way! Tony Flaner is a sorta detective of indeterminate age. He must be somewhere close mid-to-late thirties, after all, he has a fifteen-year-old son and an ex with whom he is great friends. He should be, she gave him a generous settlement in the divorce. He is one of these guys who doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up and he still hasn’t (grown up).

In this first-person narrative, he is reduced to taking on the care of a spoiled dog after deciding being a PI isn’t what it was cracked up to be. He is tired of taking pictures of wayward spouses. Then he gets a call from a childhood friend in a town he’d pushed to the back of his memory. His aunt Vicky has been murdered and the local police are writing it off. He can’t have that, it was his aunt Vicky who took him in at the age of ten and loved and nurtured him as her own. Her own son, Rick, was about his age. He spends some time reflecting on Rick, called “Thick” by everyone except Tony (and he’ll explain why.) He’ll return to Moab, Utah to look into it using his amazing detective powers.

Admittedly, here is a main character that is rather unlikable. He’s irreverent, snarky, and fails badly at being a focused adult. Then the next page he reflects on how much he owes his aunt and exudes guilt over his lack of attention and communication. He could have, would have, should have exhibited a great deal more respect, honor, and gratitude. He reconnects with the girl who had his attention in Moab and begins his investigation.

Thicker Than Water by Johnnyy WorthenWhile the story begins just a tad slow, I think it’s intentional to fix this protagonist’s mindset to you. He’s flippant. But he’s serious about his aunt. Moab, not so much, and there are plenty of jabs at poor Moab as a small Utah town that leaves no doubt in your mind as to the character of the inhabitants or the tourists who swarm yearly to enjoy the local recreation. Mountain biking (bicycles), rock climbing, and scenic orange-hued arches. (We rode into Moab one evening looking for a motel during our southwest national park ride one year and woke the next morning to find ashes covering our motorcycles. There was a huge forest fire in the hills and we were diverted from our original route.)

The author then takes you on a mad romp in some kind of bad trip with a constant barrage of charming analogies or bits of Tony wisdom:

“Utah’s gets its official state flower, the Orange Traffic Pylon, from I-15.”
“…Hike Three Days Through Cactus To See This Lame Hole in the Rock Arch…”
“It’s easier to teach a cat to come on command than it is to evict a tenant.”
“He knitted his forehead like a lemur taking a trig quiz.”
“…Moab’s primary export was its children.”
“When I started seeing noises…”

Maybe you have to be on something to completely get all the dialogue. It comes at you in snappy patterns, switching references briefly in mid-conversation to a wholly unrelated conversation. But you read it. Did you pay attention? Remember it? This is a frustrated stand-up comedian, reminding me just a little of Rodney Dangerfield. (He got no respect either.)

The author may not describe in detail what each support character looked like, but you definitely got to know them. I really enjoyed both his ex-wife and Allie. And Rick, poor slow Rick, is sympathetic albeit shocking at times.

Did I figure out the antagonist? Yes, although in true Agatha Christie style, he deftly laid it out following a conclusion you’d better keep up with–it came in stages throughout the last quarter of the book. The plot is unique, well-paced, and even at 582 pages didn’t take long to fly through. Fascinating train wreck and an author writing style that may grow on you too. My only problem was the occasional objectionable language and the edit misses. Still, the crazy thing is nothing if not entertaining and wraps in a satisfying conclusion, a grin on your face, and a chuckle in your heart.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the new perspective on a PI mystery novel. Recommended for those who enjoy a distinctive MC and plot and scenic locale.

Book Details:

Genre: General Humorous Fiction, Private Investigator Mysteries
Publisher: Dandelion Ink LLC

  • ISBN-10:1733107231
  • ISBN-13:978-1733107235
  • ASIN: B07W418BVW

Print Length: 582 pages
Publication Date: August 22, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Thicker Than Water

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Johnny Worthen - authorThe Author: JOHNNY WORTHEN grew up in the high desert snows and warm summer winds of the Wasatch Mountains. He graduated with a B.A. in English, minor in Classics and a Master’s in American Studies from the University of Utah. After a series of businesses and adventures, including years abroad and running his own bakery, Johnny found himself drawn to the only thing he ever wanted to do — write. And write he does. Well versed in modern literary criticism and cultural studies, Johnny writes upmarket multi-genre fiction – thriller, horror, young adult, comedy and mystery so far. “I write what I like to read,” he says. “That guarantees me at least one fan and a hectic job for my publicist.”

When not pounding on his keyboard, teaching the craft, attending conferences and conventions, Johnny Worthen can be found with his wife and boys in Sandy, Utah.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Desolate Shores by Daryl Wood Gerber – a #BookReview

Title: Desolate Shores (An Aspen Adams Novel of Suspense Book 1) by Daryl Wood Gerber

Desolate Shores by Daryl Wood GerberBook Blurb:

Daryl Wood Gerber, the national bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author of the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, returns with a novel of gripping suspense . . .

A chilling murder, an elusive killer, and a family mystery that hits too close to home . . .

After finding the body of her best friend on the icy shores of Lake Tahoe, Aspen Adams refuses to stand by and watch as the local sheriff’s department begins their search for the killer. Launching her own investigation, she’s soon confronted with a growing array of secrets—both about the friend she thought she knew and about many of the people in her own life. As fragmentary clues and escalating dangers threaten to derail her, she must also cope with the disturbing behavior of her deadbeat sister and troubled teenage niece.

Determined to overcome her personal demons over past failures, Aspen is driven to unravel the conflicting evidence and a shifting range of suspects to bring the killer to justice, even as a family trauma unfolds that threatens to upend her life. And as her investigation inexorably leads her to a shocking discovery and taunts her with a solution that is just out of reach, Aspen realizes that the killer wants nothing more than to see her and her niece dead . . .

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Beyond the Page

  • ISBN-10:1950461203
  • ISBN-13:978-1950461202
  • ASIN: B07V9PP2R4

Print Length: 239 pages
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Desolate Shores

Desolate Shores by Daryl Wood GerberMy Review:

Aspen Adams fled to the beautiful mountains of Lake Tahoe when her therapy practice crashed in on her. (And I must say, the author had me at Lake Tahoe–love that area, those mountains, the memories, and the cabin we shared a couple blocks from the shore.) Aspen was invited to work with her aunt Max in her detective agency and was hoping to elevate to private investigator. She is thrust into the position when her best friend, Vikki Carmichael, is murdered and she lacks trust in the local sheriff’s department to find and bring her killer to justice.

The author weaves a well-plotted mystery while she extols the beauty, the activities, and the unique location of the premier ski resorts at the California/Nevada border, favoring Alpine Meadows (not my favorite). Her descriptions of the scenes with the protagonist and her aunt, contacts, and Detective Sergeant Nick Shaper put you in the area and bloomed so real, you could smell the pine trees.

Aspen’s sister, unfortunately, has a drug habit that has driven a wedge between them, but she is unable to deny her niece, Candace, a safe haven when her sister unceremoniously dumps her there for the week. It’s not long before a sub-plot develops with juggling the care of her niece with her investigation which moves at a good pace.

The author has infused a wide cadre of characters, including Karen Brandon, a seasoned detective who appears to have an alcohol problem, favorite haunts around the lake, and the bitter cold of winter in the Sierras. Aspen is floored to realize she really didn’t know Vikki as well as she thought. In the meantime, she begins to get flutters when she is in the presence of sexy Detective Shaper.

There is sufficient backstory of Aspen to get a grasp of who and why she is, though is a bit difficult to fully invest. Her niece is woven sympathetically. I liked Gwen at the bar and her aunt and they will prove to be strong support characters in the future but have reservations on the possible romance aspect with Shaper. Ummm, nah.

The author draws a careful and believable conclusion, possibly confirming who you thought was the culprit all along; just not the how or why. If so, you may have missed in the twists the subtle clues to how it would all interlink.

I received this ebook digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Either as a standalone or as book 1 in a new series, the narrative is off to a terrific start keeping the suspense throughout. Recommended to fans of Ms. Gerber (of cozy fame) and anyone who enjoys a clean, well-paced mystery with sufficient suspense that piques your interest for a second.

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 4.5-stars  

Daryl Wood Gerber - authorThe Author: SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER, which comes out once a month and with a new release
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Tasty, zesty, dangerous!

Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber writes the bestselling COOKBOOK NOOK MYSTERIES and FRENCH BISTRO MYSTERIES. As Avery Aames, she pens the bestselling CHEESE SHOP MYSTERIES. In addition, she writes stand-alone suspense thrillers, including GIRL ON THE RUN and DAY OF SECRETS and DESOLATE SHORES. Fun tidbits: Daryl jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, and she hitchhiked around Ireland by herself. Also, as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to read, cook, and golf. She has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

Thank you so much for visiting my page. Follow my PROFILE for important updates. And thank you for your reviews!

©2019 V Williams V Williams

In the Line of Fire by R J Noonan – a #BookReview

In the Line of Fire by R J NoonanTitle: In the Line of Fire: A Laura Mori Mystery by R J Noonan

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Police Procedurals

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

  • ISBN-10:1643850156
  • ISBN-13:978-1643850153
  • ASIN: B07M9LHFZY

Print Length: 297 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! August 13, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: In the Line of Fire

Book Blurb:

When secrets are too big to buy, it’s worth killing to bury them.

Growing up, Laura Mori was constantly overshadowed by her far more successful siblings. She had a tough time appeasing her parents, and now that she’s a police officer, recently promoted to detective, they still seem less than fazed. Everyone knows a cop’s salary—it’s meager, to say the least. But Laura has found her calling—she was born to be a detective and is determined to prove it, if not to her parents, then at least to the boys club that is Sunrise Lake PD. She sticks out like a sore thumb as the only young female minority, but she has resolved to at least seem like an unshakeable thumb.

The next case file on her desk turns out to be a bank heist and it should be easy enough, but what starts off as a one-and-done job quickly begins to seem too by-the-book and oddly like a notorious series of deadly bank hits from years past dubbed Twilight. But it’s a dead end—Twilight is only ever mentioned in hushed tones, and there’s little to no history on it in the department. And then she receives her first sign, of many more to come, that her investigation is not welcome. Alongside her partner Z and stunningly attractive FBI agent Nick Derringer, she begins to pull on the frayed thread, and that’s when she sees the bloody writing on the wall: the only other young female cop on the force was KIA during Twilight.

With too much on the line to lose, including her own life, Laura must get to the bottom of the case and fast, or she, too, will become history.

In the Line of Fire by R J NoonanMy Review:

Only the second in the series, this narrative can function well as a standalone. There are only a few references to the previous book, a case that Laura Mori solved which propelled her into detective grade with the Sunrise Lake PD, a small town in the Pacific NW.

She is a natural with her investigative calling and as a Japanese American with successful siblings has something to prove to her parents as well as the men of the department as she whittles away at a firm position within the force. She has been partnered with Zion “Z” Frazier. He and his former partner were on a call when she was killed in the last of the Twilight robberies and the memory of the brutal loss still shakes him.

When what looks like a copy cat bank heist of the Twilight robberies that led to the officer fatality occurs, Laura is given lead into the investigation and is soon joined by FBI agent Nick Derringer (enter the romance). She is quickly told not to tie in the three-year-old investigation but the more she learns about that one the more she realizes there is a connection.

The well-paced and plotted mystery is multi-layered with her partner Z concentrating on petty theft at a local assisted living facility while she gleans information on the cold case file as well as the recent bank heist. She is met with derision from the good ole boy network but doggedly pursues leads and questions witnesses of both crimes. Then she receives threats to leave the Twilight investigation alone.

This one may have been a bit ambitious with layers connecting to the next offense, or corruption, and infused with well-worn tropes. While Laura is smart and effective at gleaning information from her interrogations, she’s still busy vying for her parental approval and fighting the guys at work. (And as a detective, I’m still trying to figure out why she is wearing a uniform or she and Z drive a police cruiser.) Laura is fairly well-fleshed, as is Z, not so much the heart-throb. The perp is rather one-dimensional and easy to figure out, a bit too obvious.

The author is, however, building an interesting group of characters and it will be interesting to see how they grow and Laura mature. I’m not sure she needs a long-distance romance, cute or not,  and you’ll have to stifle some disbelief with this one. The conclusion ramps up the tension and neatly closes the book.

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. These are my own opinions. Recommended for mystery fans of light police procedurals.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three-point Five of Five Stars Three point Five of Five Stars

R J Noonan - authorThe Author: (From Goodreads) Rosalind Noonan is a New York Times bestselling author of women’s fiction and domestic suspense novels and is a graduate of Wagner College. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she writes in the shade of some towering two-hundred-year-old Douglas fir trees. This is her first mystery under the name R. J. Noonan.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – a #BookReview

The Turn of the Key by Ruth WareTitle: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Genre: British & Irish Literary Fiction, Psychological Literary Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

  • ISBN-10:1787300447
  • ISBN-13:978-1787300446
  • ASIN: B07HPCRC7Q

Print Length: 352 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! August 6, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Turn of the Key

Book Blurb:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark WoodThe Woman in Cabin 10The Lying Game, and The Death of Mrs. Westaway comes Ruth Ware’s highly anticipated fifth novel.

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth WareMy Review:

I was truly excited to be approved for this digital download, with the hype, and what appeared to be an exceptional thriller. But as with many these days, perhaps I’ve been taught to expect knock-down, heart-pounding prose, complete with audible gasps and groans from the reader–me. This one wasn’t it.

The blurb tells most of what you’ll read–Rowan Caine stumbles across a want ad searching for something else and conspires to win the live-in nanny position with well to do architects in the remote Scottish Highlands. They completely rehabbed a Victorian outfitting it as a “smart” home and you know what kind of a technology nightmare that conjures. There are four girls with the oldest, a teen, away at school, and two girls five and eight and a baby (who is apparently not yet walking?) at eighteen months. The parents welcome her into the house, hand her a lengthy digest of instructions and immediately skip off to a big doin’s expecting to be gone at least a week. Hmmm…

Told in first person, Rowan attempts a letter to an attorney she is hoping she can get to defend her (no clue where that money will come from!). She apparently has a court-appointed attorney and you know you get what you pay for. Rowan is in jail on a murder charge and the entire book is supposed to be her letter to the attorney. She says over and over again she didn’t do it. Uh huh.

But Rowan begins to wrestle with the technology immediately, ghost stories, things that go bump in the night, and little things gone missing almost right away. The two middle girls are a nightmare just by themselves. And watch out when the teenager comes home! In the meantime, we are introduced to Jack, the all-around handyman (gotta have the romance touch), and Jean, the erstwhile housekeeper. (NOT a live-in.)

First, I had a problem with Rowan, slinging around words you shouldn’t utter in the presence of those three little ones. She seems to have a short-fuse, lack of sleep, and little patience or aptitude although an experienced nanny. There are interesting tidbits about the smart features, the lack of real landscaping, the poison garden (now THAT’S creepy), and way too many minute details which make up her teeth-grinding life in the Heatherbrae House.

It begins interestingly enough then settles in on a slow account of what happened, or didn’t, that landed her in the slammer. It’s not particularly fast-paced but does present NTK (need to know). So you keep reading. Red herrings slide in, some of which constitute TMI (TOO much information), twists, and fleshing but I really couldn’t invest in Rowan and wasn’t big on Jack. Then the reveals. Oh man…Rowan’s main reveal…it’s a groaner and the last little reveal? (Expected) The conclusion fell short of wrapping up all the questions created to provide tension. I wasn’t thrilled.

I received this digital download through the publisher and NetGalley and appreciate the introduction to this author and her writing style. I’m sure Ruth Ware fans will more fully enjoy and I’ll entertain a second to compare.

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Rosepoint Publishing: Three point Five of Five Stars Three point Five of Five Stars

Ruth Ware - authorThe Author: Ruth Ware is an international number one bestseller. Her thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game and The Death of Mrs Westaway have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the Sunday Times and New York Times, and she is published in more than 40 languages. She lives on the south coast of England, with her family.

Visit http://www.ruthware.com to find out more, or find her on facebook or twitter as @RuthWareWriter

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